Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, issued the following statement Thursday after the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a class action lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s new fire prevention fee:
“I appreciate the continued efforts of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to preserve the spirit of Proposition 13 and to stand up for California taxpayers, and I support the class action suit to overturn the fire tax. In the Legislature, at the ballot box, and now in the courts, HJTA has been a tireless advocate for hardworking Californians who are tired of having their pockets picked at every turn.”
“The Fire Tax, passed by the Legislature on a party-line vote in 2011, instituted a one hundred fifty dollar fire ‘fee’ per structure, upon parcel owners within the State Responsibility Area. The funds are to be used for fire prevention practices within those areas, as well as firefighting should the need arise. At a time when the State is placing priorities on discretionary ‘wish list’ spending, Californians are being asked to cover for the necessities.“
“State law is very clear when it comes to the difference between a fee and a tax, and I believe that the courts will agree that this ‘fee’ is not a fee at all, but a tax that should have required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature. There is no sufficient relationship between the taxpayers who are paying the fee and the purposes for which the revenue will be spent, so it lacks the nexus required for a fee. Additionally, the law itself calls for the fire fee to be collected by the State Board of Equalization, the state’s primary means of collecting taxes.”
“As they have for decades, HJTA is once again looking out for the best interests of California taxpayers, and I support them in their fight against this illegal tax.”
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth is Chairman of the Assembly Local Government Committee, and represents the 38th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and Glendale.