California politics is currently dominated by a debate over taxes.
How much should we pay? Should income taxes be raised temporarily? What about sales taxes? And what should the money go for -- schools or the budget or something else?
Californians, for their reputation as some of America's most liberally minded citizens, don't much like taxes. They do like to complain about them too. And it isn't hard to find people here who claim that state taxes are too high.
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The next time you hear that complaint, try asking the complainer a question:
How much exactly did you pay in state taxes?
Indeed, try asking that question now, at the end of the April tax season. If you think state income taxes are too high, do you know how much you paid?
The answer for most people is: I don't know.
Indeed, your blogger, who knew he was going to write this blog, can't remember what he paid in state taxes.
And that answer speaks volumes about how serious complaints about high income taxes are.
Federal taxes are so much bigger that most filers notice those before they look at the relatively meager state taxes. (I do know to the dollar what my federal taxes were). Heck, sales taxes are a bigger deal to us, because we see those numbers on so many bills.
If state income taxes were such a big deal, we'd know how much we paid. But we don't.
It's a question that Gov. Brown, civil rights attorney Molly Munger, and the backers of other tax initiatives of the November ballot should think about asking, the next time someone challenges them on taxes.