Over the last year, politicians in Sacramento have been negotiating the extension of California’s so-called “cap and trade” law which is intended to address the issue of climate change. Last night, the governor and legislative leaders announced a proposal to link the extension of “cap and trade” with a repeal of the fire tax imposed on 850,000 rural property owners who live in State Responsibility Areas where CalFire is supposed to provide fire protection services.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has an active class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the fire tax and is anticipating concluding the case in the trial court later this year.
The inclusion of the fire tax repeal in the “cap and trade” legislation is intended to blunt opposition of pro-taxpayer interests. However, the proposal hardly makes the legislation taxpayer neutral. Costs to taxpayers as the result of California’s global warming policies are substantial and include higher prices for gas, electricity, and consumer goods.
HJTA has been in contact with legislative leaders and the governor’s office regarding the fire tax repeal.
After HJTA has an opportunity to assess the impact of the entire legislative package we will inform our members, participants in the class action and the public.
If the bill becomes law, the fire tax would be suspended immediately. However, the repeal would be prospective only, meaning it does not envision a refund to property owners who have, for several years, been paying the illegal tax.
We strongly believe the tax was illegal and that rural property owners are entitled to a refund. For that reason, even if the fire tax is repealed prospectively, HJTA will continue the prosecution of our class action lawsuit to recover the taxes illegally imposed.
No action is needed by property owners subject to fire tax at this time. If that changes, HJTA will send out a notification.