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Key California Tax Reform Bills Making Positive Strides

Are you ready for some light at the end of a dark tunnel? Today brought some massive hope for reform to tax policies and set a positive tone for this month – a bright spot within an otherwise dismal year. We hope it gives momentum to a game that earlier seemed to continually favor the opposing side.

SB1281 is the name of the fortuitous bill, which is making its way through the legislature after making it off the floor of the House of Representatives. After being three down in the first half, we finally scored a three-pointer (in basketball terms). This was no easy task with two reliable members of the democratic party being absent (Hertzberg and Berman). This is a game-changer; in fact, it’s a decisive moment in sentiment, and it means that two of three legislatures agree with the need for tax relief and putting an end to cultivation tax.

Then came the tie-breaker, with Senator Mike McGuire deciding to shelve (make inactive) his other bill (SB1074), which stated that the direction of the legislation was set in stone by the Governor’s May Revision to the budget. That bill would have constituted a neutral direction as it relates to marijuana tax.

So finally, at the halfway point of this year, momentum and crowd sentiment seems to be pushing in our favor. CA policy-makers are finally paying attention, and it looks like we will continue to have their collective ear.

Down In The First Half

Earlier this year, we were engaged in a shell game with none other than Gavin Newsom. In his temporary tax relief bills, he pretensions to give the cream off the top back to cultivators while ignoring the fact that marijuana farming is still prohibitively expensive due to a stack of underlying excise taxes. Not to mention the tax amnesty many growers and retailers need to remain solvent.

The backdrop has been pretty negative, with tax evasion for marijuana businesses taking much of the heat from the tax collector. Cumbersome tax bills have pushed many in the industry into a dark and inescapable corner, with $187 million of marijuana tax still reportedly outstanding.

In April, a group of campaigners from Los Angeles sought to take on this ball-and-chain approach to marijuana taxation by proposing a tiered taxation model that was more friendly to struggling businesses.

Senator Bradford’s Warm Glow Of Influence

Senator Steven Bradford is largely focused on social equity issues, and so his latest involvement in tax reform for marijuana comes from that position. This is understandable since so many of the taxation issues many growers face threaten multigenerational farms.

Independent entrepreneurs are the hardest hit by these unrelenting tax bills. A rally that Supernova Woman organized is just one of the examples of groups taking on a draconian tax policy.

But while previously occurring rallies like these brought Gavin Newsom to engage in superficial changes to tax policy, this latest development to tax reform facilitated by Senator Bradford might lead to a longer-term shift in sentiment toward the deeper-rooted tax problems at issue.

Black and brown growers who had voted for Newsom are now worse off than before, and Senator Bradford recognizes this. His proposal of SB1281 seeks to eliminate cultivation tax completely and cut excise tax down to 5% from an extravagant 15%. Meanwhile, SB1293 proposes to award tax credits to offset Personal Income and Corporate Tax. This $10,000 tax credit will be granted to successful social equity and licensee relief applicants.

 


 

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