A taxpayer advocate group Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the California State Board of Equalization, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Department of Justice challenging the constitutionality of the state’s “Fire Prevention Fee.”
“The wheels of justice grind slowly, but I’m pleased that this vitally important lawsuit is moving forward,” said George Runner, who is a board member of the State Board of Equalization and opposed the tax.
“Recent revelations regarding the state’s misuse of fire fee dollars have only strengthened our case that the ‘fire fee’ is really an illegal tax.”
The lawsuit was filed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association.
Runner plans to formally join the lawsuit by filing an amicus brief on behalf of California taxpayers he represents.
Both during his time in the Legislature and as an elected member of the State Board of Equalization, Runner has been a vocal opponent of the fire fee. But he has also encouraged impacted Californians to pay the fee because it is current law.
So far most taxpayers are following Runner’s advice. As of March 1, about 72% of bills have been paid in full and 6% paid in part, yielding $72 million in revenue to the state.
“While a lawsuit is one way to stop this regressive and unconstitutional tax, an even better approach would be for the Legislature to simply repeal it. And they ought to do so before one more Californian is forced to forfeit one more dollar.”
The State of California is currently gearing up to send a second round of bills to rural property owners for fiscal year 2012-13. An updated mailing schedule will soon be available at boe.ca.gov and calfirefee.com.
Between August and December last year, the state mailed more than 760,000 bills for fiscal year 2011-12.