Brown's Prop 30 raises taxes retroactively
By John Seiler
One little known aspect of Proposition 30 is that it increases income taxes retroactively for 2012. Approved by 54 percent of California on Nov. 6, the initiative grabs $6 billion a year, mainly by raising income taxes on “millionaires” who make $250,000 or more a year.
But $5 billion from “rich” people is going to be due quickly for the 2012 tax year.
The U.S. Constitution explicitly bans “ex post facto” laws, which are laws that affect actions from before the law was enacted. For example, if tomorrow the U.S. government brings back alcohol prohibition, it can’t jail you for the beer you chugged yesterday. According to Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”
And for good measure, Article I, Section 10 reiterates: “No State shall…pass any…ex post facto Law….”
Unfortunately, as in so many areas, federal courts have not enforced this part of the Constitution. The last time this came up was almost two decades ago, when President Clinton imposed higher taxes retroactive to Jan. 1 of that year.
Explained an Aug. 4, 1993 editorial in the Orange County Register, where I was an editorial writer:
“The retroactive scheme is a twist on what is called an ex-post-facto law, the unjust practice of making something illegal after the fact, so you imprison somebody for having done something in the past that was perfectly acceptable then but was declared illegal sometime later.
“That kind of ‘justice’ is common in tyrannical states, but it is outlawed under the United States Constitution.
“Not everyone will be hit with the new retroactive tax. In his speech last night plumping for the scheme, the president lamented, ‘I don’t like taxes any more than you do.’ No kidding. Perhaps that’s why the president’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, cashed in the family investments last Dec. 31 , just hours before the new fiscal year began.
“Last December, most Americans still believed the Clinton promises of a middle-class tax cut. Hillary presciently put less trust in her husband.
“Last night Mr. Clinton announced, ‘It has been 30 years since a president asked Americans to take personal responsibility’ for American prosperity. That was when President John Kennedy cut taxes, producing a decade of prosperity. Mr. Clinton is doing the opposite.
“As ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno quipped, if Mr. Clinton makes the tax increase retroactive to January, voters should be given a new election retroactive to last November.”
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