New California Laws effective July 1, 2011
NEW CALIFORNIA LAWS
Eff. Friday, July 1, 2011
Sales Tax Decrease. The sales and use tax rate in California decreased by one percent from 8.25 to 7.25. Savings? A $20 purchase used to cost an additional $1.65 in sales taxes. The same purchase now will cost an additional sales tax of just $1.45. The savings? 20 cents. Watch closely for local jurisdictions (incorporated cities, counties) to raise their sales/use tax rates to cover the shortfall.
Carbon monoxide detectors to be required in all single family homes with an attached garage or fossil-fuel source. The previous law only required detectors in newly constructed homes. Given that the majority of all homes in California are using natural gas for heating, and many are using propane fuels, manufactures of carbon monoxide detectors have a windfall profits opportunity based on this law. The impact on homeowners isn’t all that great, financially; until you consider that if there is an injury or death in the house which was caused by a fire, carbon monoxide or faulty heater, homeowner insurance will not pay off if there was no “properly operating, certified carbon monoxide detector” in the home at the time of the incident. This is a great loophole insurance companies will use to avoid paying claims.
Whooping Cough. All students entering 7th through 12th grades must have proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster shot before starting school. The law goes into effect as of the 2011-2012 school year. The cost of these “shots” will be borne by parents and guardians of the effected children.
Carpool traffic lanes. Stickers issued to owners of hybrid vehicles that allowed them to be driven in carpool lanes, expired on July 1. Electric and natural-gas-powered vehicles displaying white stickers may continue to drive in HOV lanes until Jan. 1, 2015.
Traffic Tickets. Local jurisdictions are not allowed to enact or enforce any traffic ordinances that are currently covered in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). This law was enacted to ensure that all traffic violations are reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. For example: a city cannot pass a law or enforce any law that is basically the same as the current laws covered by the CVC. This means, that cities (or counties) will not be able to “cite a “city” traffic violation”, collect fees, fines, etc. and not report it to the DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicles now has total and sole jurisdiction over all traffic citation issues.
Traffic School. If you attend traffic school it no longer means a violation is completely removed from your driving record. Now, courts will keep records of tickets after completing traffic school. However, the records will continue to be withheld from the Department of Motor Vehicles databases, preventing points on drivers’ records and higher insurance rates. The provision is to ensure that local courts will have accurate accounts of individuals’ traffic history. Unknown as to how long these records will be kept.
Food Handler I.D. Card. The California Food Handler Card law requires all food handlers to enroll in a state-approved food safety course and pass an assessment. Food handlers are legally defined as any person involved in the preparation, storage or service of food in a food facility. The law covers nearly all restaurant positions including management, all kitchen staff, waiter staff, and support staff such as people who clear tables and wash dishes. The law also applies to hot and cold beverage service, so bartenders and coffee shop employees will also have to obtain the Food Handler I.D. card.
Food Handler Exemptions: Grocery store employees, operators of temporary food booths and vendors at certified farmers’ markets are not required to have a Food Handler I.D. Card. Cafeteria workers at schools and health care facilities are also exempt.
Vehicle License Fees. Starting July 1, 2011, the annual vehicle license charges and fees paid to the DMV tumbles by 43%. That is to say, if the fee is $100 pre July 1, the fee is now just $57, or 57%.
Millions of California taxpayers, shoppers, car owners are, theoretically in for some rare good news from Sacramento: tax cuts.
The expiring tax increases, which were placed on the books in 2009 as California teetered toward insolvency, will provide significant savings for many people. On average, a family of four will save more than $1,000 a year when income tax hikes that expired in January 2011 are factored in, according to Republican lawmakers.
While state sales tax reverts to 7.25% from 8.25%, many local municipalities CAN add their own levies which would result in a total tax rate exceeding the new 7.25% state rate. A new car buyer who scoops up a $25,000 ride on or after July 1, 2011, for instance, will pay $250 less in sales tax. And the smaller yearly vehicle fee — dropping from 1.15% of a car’s value to 0.65% — on the newly purchased car will save the owner another $125. Also, note that California’s DMV determines “the value of vehicles”. Considering that, “values” could rise to recover the loss differences resulting in no savings to the tax payer or even higher costs.
The budget the governor signed Thursday (June 30) raises vehicle registration fees by $12, (oops, there goes part of the $125 savings in the paragraph above) but any owner of a car worth more than $2,400 will still experience a tax cut. Keep in mind that the government determines what your vehicle is worth.
As an aside: Property taxes. Notice that it is the government who decides what your home is worth not the real estate appraiser or sales agents. If you purchased a home and paid way too much… THAT price becomes the “assessed value” which the government uses to apply property taxes. Of course, you can “appeal” the assessed value, but that can (by law) take up to 2-years for the “hearing” at which time, the government can simply deny your appeal no matter how much “proof” you provided – and you DO NOT HAVE FURTHER RECOURSE. You cannot “appeal” the appeal board’s decision. “Their word is FINAL.” Often as not, the average homeowner will spend considerably more money providing the government the “proof” required for the appeal than any realized “savings” in a reduction of the taxes, since the appeal is likely to be denied because the government does not want to send you a refund as that decreases “their” cash in the bank.
In Sacramento, Republican lawmakers took a victory lap around a downtown Ford dealership. They declared Friday (July 1) “Freedom from Higher Taxes Day” and patted each other on the back for their refusal to renew the higher tax rates in budget talks this year where Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats in the Legislature wanted the new and higher levies to help balance the state’s books.
“We kept politicians out of the taxpayers’ wallets,” said Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare), standing at a podium in the dealership parking lot.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino) said the vanishing taxes would be a boon to a California job market that has stagnated at near 12% unemployment. “The death of these taxes is the rebirth of our economy,” he said.
Democrats disagreed. (but of course) They said letting billions in taxes lapse as Californians faced a huge deficit, amounted to governmental malpractice. Many of the steepest spending cutbacks they enacted in the budget — suspending a program to help teen mothers, slashing welfare grants by 8% and cutting cash aid for the elderly and disabled — also go into effect Friday, July 1, 2011.
Pay Attention. Politicians are “in business”. They’ve gotten into politics not for the good of the rest of the population, but for the good of their own pocket-books. No one goes to “work” in any job “solely for the love of working.” We all go to “work” solely for the money it pays. If your income money was reduced to half, would you still “go to work at the same place? Politically, if there’s a reduction in a tax here, rest assured there will be an increase over there to compensate. This “procedure” is to ensure there’s enough tax and fees coming in to guarantee “political job security”. Now, if every elected politician, by law, was limited to receiving an annual salary, including “perks”, equal to the median average California household income (which is presently about $60,000 annually), rest assured we’d have fewer politicians because their annual salaries would be half to a third of their current incomes.
Clarifying median average incomes. Statistics, which are abstract figures, are compiled annually by several independent groups such as government agencies, colleges and business groups, even advertising agencies. The data are collected from various sources and averages are finalized. Most statistical abstracts reported are 1 to 3 years old by the time the data reaches the general public.
In that light, San Bernardino county Median Average Household Income for 2009 was $52,137 annually. Riverside county came in at $55,151. Sacramento county shows $52,502. San Diego county tops out at $60,103 while Los Angeles county reflects $54,375. The highest for 2009 is Santa Clara county at $84,990 and the lowest was $33,546 for Trinity County. (Trinity is a small 2000 square mile county near the northern border of Calif. with a population of about 13,500).
Source of this data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), Bureau of the Census, and the Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates Program.
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