Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Can the Legislature Suspend Income Tax Indexing?

According to this article by Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee, the Legislature is considering suspending income tax indexing for a year to help solve the State's budget crisis. But there's a problem. Proposition 7, a statutory initiative adopted in June 1982, requires permanent indexing of the income tax. For the Legislature to "suspend" indexing would therefore seem to conflict with the statute. Accordingly. this would be an impermissible amendment by the Legislature of a statutory initiative. (Prop. 7 does not contain a provision permitting the Legislature to amend it.) Cases such as Franchise Tax Board v. Cory have given a pretty broad reading of what constitutes an amendment to a statutory initiative; the statute enacted by the Legislature doesn't have to formally amend the initiative statute, only to conflict with it.

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