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Report Shows Board of Equalization Rules in Favor of Campaign Donors

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
As a reporter for the “Daily Tax Report,” Laura Mahoney has been to many meetings of the California Board of Equalization. That’s the publicly elected group that settles tax disputes. She says she began to notice a pattern in the winning cases. So she decided to look into 70 complex and high profile tax disputes over an eight year period.

“Our investigation found that some California taxpayers are making campaign contributions to the same people who will judge how much tax they owe. The evidence is that the more money you give, the more likely you are to get the ruling you want.” 

Mahoney found that taxpayers who gave up to 16-thousand dollars to political action committees associated with board members won tax disputes about half the time. Those who donated between 50 and 140-thousand won nearly 90 percent of the time.
Mahoney says this is all completely legal. That’s important to Board Chairwoman Betty Yee. She says campaign contributions have no effect on how she does her job.
“My own consideration of the cases, like any other case that comes before the board, I decide them on the merits and the campaign contributions don’t have any influence with respect to my decision.”
Yee says she would hope the same is true of her colleagues on the Board of Equalization.
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