Ballot initiatives Feed

Nov. 4 is not just a day to decide which candidates will fill local, state and federal legislative offices. Voters across the country also will be having their say on 146 ballot measures. The topics awaiting the people's voice range from guaranteeing gun rights, legalizing marijuana, hiking the minimum wage and even defining what it takes to be a person. Oh yeah. There also are several tax ballot initiatives, as detailed in today's Weekly Tax Tip. Straight to voters: Although lawmakers are chosen to make tough decisions about running a state or other levels of government, they are not averse... Read more →


You can pick on Cleveland and its sports teams all you want, but you've got to hand it to Browns, Cavaliers and Indians fans. They are willing to pay more sin taxes so that their NFL, NBA and MLB teams can play in top-notch facilities. Additional levies on alcohol and cigarettes were approved by Cuyahoga County voters on Tuesday, May 6. The taxes are projected to raise as much as $350 million, which will be used to pay for building, renovating, improving or repairing the city's professional teams' facilities. Tax dollars for the rich: Currently, the Cleveland Browns play their... Read more →


Colorado tax collectors appear to be the big winners in the state's sale of recreational marijuana. Owners of the 37 new dispensaries around the state reported first week retail sales exceeding $5 million. Around $1 million in legal pot transactions were made on New Year's Day, when the new law took effect. Despite the smart-ass caption by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal photographer (was that you, Milton Adams?), I was lighting up a Marlboro cigarette, not the wacky weed back in my early days as a newspaper police beat reporter called in late one night to cover a breaking story. Sanctioned marijuana... Read more →


All eyes have been on Colorado since its voters last year legalized recreational use of marijuana. This election day, we get to see if Colorado voters will agree to impose a 15 percent excise tax on weed. The tax would be on the average wholesale price of retail marijuana. It would apply when the plant product is first sold or transferred by a retail cultivation facility. The marijuana excise tax is just one part of Proposition AA. The measure also asks voters whether they want to add a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales of the herbal tobacco --... Read more →


Admit it. You wish you had been in Denver yesterday. That's where opponents of a special sales tax on personal use of pot rallied support for their cause by handing out more than 1,000 marijuana cigarettes. Marijuana cigarettes passed out in Denver to protest a proposal to add a sales tax to recreational pot sales. Click image to watch WUSA 9News video. The sales tax initiative will be on Colorado's November ballot. Colorado voters last year approved recreational use of marijuana. Individuals age 21 and older can possess up to an ounce marijuana for personal use, as well as grow... Read more →


Those wild and crazy Californians. They were in the forefront of anti-tax measures, most notably the 1978 version of Proposition 13, which subsequently was incorporated into the Golden State's constitution and limits real estate property tax increases. Now a local city lawmaker is looking to expand taxes. Specifically, Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak has tossed out the idea of an email tax to help save snail mail. The financial straits of the U.S. Postal Service became an issue for Berkeley lawmakers when the paper mail delivery system proposed closing that northern California city's downtown post office and selling the building.... Read more →


Last week was totally crazy. I was traveling and simultaneously trying to stay on top of tax developments. And there was this thing called a presidential election that kept distracting me. But I was able to post a couple of items last week at my other tax blog, although I'm a bit later than usual in noting those posts here! Hurricane Sandy continued to get attention almost a week after she made landfall and after being redubbed Superstorm Sandy. Whatever you want to call her, she was nasty. And the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged Sandy's effects by issuing some special... Read more →


Almost 200 various ballot questions made or will make it onto 39 statewide ballots in 2012. The states with most propositions are Alabama and Florida with 11 each. California has 10. Arizona, Louisiana and Oregon voters will decide on nine ballot questions in their respective states. Ballot questions 2012 word cloud courtesy Ballot Initiative Strategy Center The hot issues are marijuana, health, marriage and, of course, taxes. Thirty-four of the 2012 ballot initiatives involve tax issues. Four were decided by voters earlier this year. That leaves 30 tax-related referenda for voters in 15 states to decide when they go to... Read more →


At a recent personal finance bloggers conference in Denver, a few of my colleagues and I took time off from talking dollars and cents to see some local sights. As part of our ice cream and art walking tour (and yes, I admit that the ice cream was as big a draw as the art!) we were treated to some of the Mile High City's public art. That's "National Velvet" to the left, a sculpture by Denver artist (not pro tennis player) John McEnroe, installed in 2008 at the eastern foot of the city's Highlands Walking Bridge. It cost $53,000... Read more →


It's just the fifth day of the month, but it's a 30 kind of day. This morning I blogged about the 30th Olympiad, whose official Roman numerals make printing the formal title a bit dicey. But that number also is significant to California. To deal with the Golden State's budgetary issues, Gov. Jerry Bown is pushing a ballot initiative that would hike the income tax on Californians earning more than $250,000 a year. The measure also would raise the statewide sales tax paid by every consumer. Of course, The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 must be... Read more →


Few things tick people off like taxes and traffic. So combining the two usually isn't a good idea. But some states have decided to take that route. Let's start down the traffic and tax trail in the Peach State. A one cent regional transportation sales tax increase is on today's ballot in 10 Georgia counties. They are, of course, all around the incredibly congested Atlanta area UPDATE, Wednesday, Aug. 1: Georgia voters rejected the transporation proposal. Image courtesy the Untie Atlanta website, which has an interactive map where you can find more about transportation projects that might be paid for... Read more →


It now is official. Smokers can puff away without having to pay more in California cigarette taxes. For a brief time after the June 5 vote, it looked like Proposition 29, which would have raised the state cigarette excise tax by $1 a pack, might have a chance at becoming law. But Golden State voters narrowly defeated the ballot initiative, according to full precinct results that were posted Friday, June 22, on the California Secretary of State website. The tax, which would have gone primarily to cancer research projects, lost by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. Around 100,000 absentee and... Read more →


California smokers might be puffing a bit nervously today as the Proposition 29 tally continues. Golden State election officials still are counting more than a million mailed ballots that were sent a day or two before the June 5 vote on the proposal to add another $1 per pack excise tax to cigarettes. Results immediately after the vote showed the ballot initiative to increase the tax being defeated by around 63,000 votes. But as the counting has continued, the no-new-tax margin of victory is shrinking. As of late Friday, June 15, the "no" vote lead had shrunk to 16,778 votes,... Read more →


North Dakota voters decided Tuesday that they didn't want to be the only state without any property taxes. Measure 2, the ballot initiative to jettison local collection of property taxes by amending North Dakota's constitution, was resoundingly defeated. More than 76 percent of the electorate voted against the real estate tax elimination. Those who wanted to do away with North Dakota property taxes argued that the more than $800 million a year brought in by the local levies could be replaced by sales and oil taxes. North Dakota is in the midst of an oil boom. If the tax repeal... Read more →


It looks like cigarette smokers in California will be spared an added $1 per pack excise tax. Officially, the vote on Proposition 29 to more than double the Golden State's cigarette tax is too close to call. The latest tally shows the anti-tax side eking out a 50.9 percent victory. That's a 63,000 vote lead out of around 4 million votes cast. But some ballots reportedly are yet to be counted. And whatever the final result, you can bet on a call for a recount. About face because…: So why did the tax increase go from almost two-thirds voter approval... Read more →


How do you become the world's biggest online retailer? By paying attention to, and taking action in connection with, every business opportunity and threat. That's why Amazon has thrown its support behind a federal online sales tax bill and mobilized to fight state sales tax collection on products purchased via the Internet. The latest e-commerce tax battle is being waged in California. On July 1 the Golden State started collecting sales taxes on products bought from online sellers who aren't based in the state but which have some state connection, such as workers (usually affiliate contractors), warehouses or offices within... Read more →


Or so says a new law approved by California voters on Nov. 2. Proposition 26 reclassifies most Golden State regulatory fees on industry as taxes. But the action is more than just a name change. By being deemed a tax, a measure now will need a two-thirds vote via public referendums or by government bodies before they can be enacted. When the charges were fees, only a simple majority was necessary to enact or change the charges. Apparently, the practical effects of the fee-to-tax change weren't that important to most voters. The ballot initiative was passed by a 53 percent... Read more →


Marijuana in California: Illegal, taxable

The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, California's Proposition 19 ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana, was rejected by the state's voters earlier this month. But that statewide defeat did not stop several Golden State cities from looking for ways to make government money out of medical marijuana transactions. Ten California cities had initiatives on their local Nov. 2 ballots to enact or increase taxes on medical marijuana sales. Voters in all 10 jurisdictions said "yes" to the proposals. Sacramento voters approved a 4 percent tax on medical pot. Amy Williams, a spokeswoman for the city, said... Read more →


Today is a big day for folks wanting to work in the U.S. House or Senate. But today's election results also could change some state tax laws. Sales and property taxes are targets, as are the rich and marijuana smokers. Around 160 ballot questions have been certified in 37 states. And while social issues are always popular topics to take directly to the electorate, Ballotpedia says that fiscal policy dominates today's initiative scene. In fact, fiscal-related ballot measures this election year are up about 13 percent over the number of such measures that went to voters in 2008. The "Big... Read more →


End of sales tax on Massachusetts liquor?

I enjoy a beer or a glass of wine now and then. And the last couple of weeks have been crazy enough (out-of-town travel, story deadlines, special events) to drive me to drink. But I suspect the folks in Massachusetts are thinking a lot more about booze right about now than I am. That's because Bay State voters will decide on Nov. 2 whether to end the state's sales tax collection on alcoholic beverages in situations where the potent potable is already subject to the state's excise tax. The excise tax is collected at the wholesale level, but consumers essentially... Read more →