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Refresher Course On The Borikas Decision

Dear Editor,

The AUSD Board of Education has placed a measure on the ballot to renew the existing parcel tax with an exception to taxation carved out for owners of vacant parcels and a lower tax for large landowners. This proposed tax conflicts with the very core of the Borikas ruling in the measure H case. The opening statement of the decision is as follows: “We agree with plaintiffs that the plain language of section 50079 and attendant rules of statutory construction demonstrate the definitional language at issue is language of limitation and does not empower school districts to classify taxpayers and property and impose different tax rates.” And yet the Board of Education has created classifications.

The decision continues as follows: “Any doubt that the definitional language in question does not, in and of itself, authorize the classification and differential taxation of taxpayers and property, is dispelled by the language of section 50079.1. This section immediately follows section 50079, authorizes community colleges to impose special taxes, and contains the same language at issue here—that ”special taxes shall by applied uniformly to all taxpayers or real property within the district” (50079.1) Section 50079.1 does not include exemptions for senior or disabled taxpayers. It does, however, provide that “unimproved property may be taxed at a lower rate than improved property.” (Ibid.)The inclusion of this additional language—expressly allowing community college districts to classify and differentially tax real property—make manifest that the definitional language, alone, does not allow districts to establish rational classifications and impose different tax rates.”

And so it is clear that improved and unimproved property must be treated uniformly, and the proposed tax simply ignores this requirement. The cap, in addition to unlawfully creating classes of taxation, is also regressive.

The more land you own, the lower the tax. Regressive taxes are taboo in this great nation of ours. We urge the citizens of Alameda to reject an unlawful and unfair tax.

Ed Hirshberg
Alamedans for Fair Taxation

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