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California Lawmaker Wants a Tax to Soak the Rich for Living Here. Also, for Leaving.



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A pack of Democratic lawmakers in California are proposing a wealth tax for the state’s richest citizens, forcing them to pay more essentially just for owning a lot of stuff. They also, amazingly, want the tax to follow Californians who flee the state in response, attempting to make them continue paying taxes on wealth that’s not even in the state.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D–Oakland) is blunt about his reasons for introducing the California Wealth Tax (A.B. 2088). Rich people have money. He wants more of it to pay for and expand state services. And that’s it.

Though the bill did not pass in the state’s legislature before it adjourned on Aug. 31, Bonta is not dropping the idea. He has encouraged Gov. Gavin Newsom to call a special session to consider his measure, along with a bill that would boost California’s highest income tax rate to 16.8% for people making more than $5 million a year.

For rich Californians thinking of leaving rather than paying the state for the privilege of owning things, lawmakers are also attempting to tax the wealthy who vote with their feet. Bonta’s bill contains a special formula to apply to anybody who has lived in the state within the last 10 years, though the tax burden will slowly drop over time for each year they don’t live in California.

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