Politicians, special interest groups and taxpayer advocates make all kinds of claims about California taxes.

As voters gear up for the June 5 primary, they deserve to know the facts about California’s tax burden — and where those public dollars are spent.

Judy Lin of CALmatters digs out the facts in this must-read story: “The open secret about California taxes.”

Story Is Written So Everyone Can Understand It

One of the best things about the report is that you needn’t be an accountant or have a degree in finance to understand it.

Here are a couple nuggets from her report:

— California has the 10th highest taxes nationally, both per capita and as a percentage of personal income. This calculation is based on the latest available data from the U.S. Census.

— Health and education “dominate” California’s public expenditures.

Lin breaks down the complexities of California’s taxes and revenue streams this way:

How It Works Now

  1. How much we pay
  2. Where the money goes
  3. What other states do

The Tradeoffs We’re Making

  1. There’s instability
  2. The Silicon Valley factor
  3. Unintended consequences
  4. Housing’s more expensive now
  5. The system is outdated
  6. The poor get hurt

So, arm yourself with the facts. That way, you can separate the truth from the lies when people running for office or pushing ballot measures talk about California taxes.

You can read the story in one sitting. Or take it a few bites at a time. Either way, you can read it at this link.

(Lin’s reporting was supported with a grant from the Ravitch Fiscal Reporting Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.)

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