Cowardly politicians in California refuse to support taxpayers who pay for BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) even when there is no BART service. From July 1 to July 5, 2013, BART workers went on strike. Yet, during the strike, the full sales tax was collected. This violates the tacit service level agreement (SLA) taxpayers have with government run services.
In Contra Costa County, the sales tax is higher than it would normally be because of a special levy for BART. For example, in Concord and Orinda, the sales tax is 9.0 percent. In both cities, the sales tax would be 8.5 percent if there were no special tax for BART.
In October 2013, BART may experience another strike. Taxpayers should not have to pay for services undelivered. If there is another strike, California’s politicians have an obligation to pass laws prohibiting any taxpayer dollars from going to BART.
Contra Costa taxpayers must not be BART’s slaves by supporting — with tax dollars — a system that offers them, during a strike, nothing in return.
On property taxes, there is a charge for BART. For a home, the tax would be 0.0043% of assessed value. On a home assessed at $1 million, the tax would be $43.00.
On August 17, 2013, I wrote Ms. Betty Yee, who is a member of the California State Board of Equalization, the entity responsible for collecting California’s sales tax. Ms. Yee is an elected official who represents Contra Costa County (and other counties) on the Board of Equalization. I asked Ms. Yee for a sales-tax refund of any sales tax I paid for BART during the time BART was on strike.
In a letter dated August 29, 2013, Mr. John Erickson, a Business Taxes Specialist for the Board of Equalization, wrote me, stating: ” . . . a refund of overpayment of sales tax may be made only to the firm or individual who paid the tax (directly) to this Board. Mr. Erikson added that, “Any refund due would be issued to the retailer with the provision that it be passed on to you.”
Mr. Erickson said that my letter to Ms. Yee was referred to him.
Mr. Erickson, in his August 29 letter added: “However, in order to help with your decision whether or not to pursue your claim, please note that there are no provisions in the legislation authorizing the imposition of the BART district sales & use tax that allow for refunds of the tax due to suspension of BART service.”
Regarding the portion of property tax that goes to BART, Mr. Bob Campbell, Contra Costa County’s Auditor and Controller, wrote me on August 11, 2013, stating that: “Agencies such as BART are authorized to receive a share of property tax by state law.”
Thus, without a change in state law, taxpayers must pay for BART even if BART provides no service. Presumably, if BART went on strike for a whole year, taxpayers would still have to pay taxes to support the transit system.
As the late Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame once said, ungrammatically: You pays your money and you takes your chances.”
Tell your elected officials that slavery was abolished in all of America — including Contra Costa County.