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Schwarzenegger suggests state consider flat tax

June 5, 2009 | 12:56 pm

Could the flat tax come to California?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today that he would like to see such “radical” proposals come out of a commission now studying an overhaul of the state’s tax system. The governor told the editorial board of the Sacramento Bee that he hoped the commission would not be afraid to propose something like “a 15%  straight tax.”

“That’s the kind of radical, daring kind of a proposal that I want to see on the table so we can look at it and say, ‘Oh, let’s study this, maybe that is the way to go,’ ” Schwarzenegger said during the discussion, which was webcast.

The current system, based on highly unstable income tax revenue that fluctuates with the economy, “doesn’t work,” Schwarzenegger said.

Advocates of a flat tax, which applies a single tax rate to all income, say it increases compliance with the tax codes because it is so simple and easy to understand. But opponents dislike that it taxes the wealthy at the same rates as the poor.

Steve Forbes and Jerry Brown both pushed for it during their presidential campaigns.

Schwarzenegger said he was concerned that the commission might be too timid in what it suggests and rule things out in advance thinking that either Democrats or Republicans would object.

 “I hope and I pray that they don’t think they have to make a political decision,” he said.

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento

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