Stacked Deck: Oft-Critiqued State Board Of Equalization Leaves Those In Tax Disputes With Risky, Expensive Options


Publish Date:
December 4, 2015
  • Johnson, Phil
Daily Journal
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Professor Michael Asimow weighs in on the difficulties of tax disputes in California for The Daily Journal.

When it comes to the process of challenging taxes, California stands alone. Tax experts across the state point to a combination of factors – most notably a lack of political will – that explain why California now ranks as the worst state in the country to contest taxes. While other states in recent years have removed quasi-judicial powers previously held by tax administering boards, California’s 136-year-old State Board of Equalization SBOE, remains entrenched as the only body in the country that tasks elected officials with hearing challenges to taxes they administer.

Michael Asimow, a visiting professor at Stanford Law School, is one of many high-profile critics of the state’s current model. In the mid-’90s, as a member of the California Law Revision Commission, he tried and failed to create an independent body for tax adjudications. He describes a position on the SBOE as “a very nice, plum job to run for, especially for a termed-out legislator.”

“Any bureaucracy or agency wants to keep power,” Asimow said.

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