News Release

Contact: Yating Campbell
For Immediate Release

BOE Tax Reform Gaining Momentum – Fiona Ma Supports Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017

Sacramento – California State Board of Equalization (BOE) Member Fiona Ma, CPA has been calling for accountability and transparency at the BOE since she first started with the Board in January 2015. When the agency continued to struggle, she called for numerous audits to improve efficiency and performance, as well as proposed a variety of reforms to the Legislature and Governor. With the proposal being introduced today, it's clear the need for change has finally gained momentum.

"It's time for fundamental reform at the BOE and that means no-nonsense transparency and accountability to the public.

For the past two years, I have been frustrated with the lack of checks and balances, accountability, and transparency at the BOE. I've proposed several reforms and called for three external audits. Sadly, despite my calls for transparency, the long-standing culture at the BOE has been to play hide-the-ball and blame others when caught. This is unacceptable behavior for a public agency.

I support SB 86, the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017, to reassign most of BOE's executive functions to the new Department of Tax and Fee Administration under the direct authority of the Governor. These reform proposals also support my continued requests for a new Appeals Process which creates a clear separation of the administration of taxes from the adjudication of disputes between taxpayers and the BOE.

Finally, for the many hard-working employees currently at the BOE, the proposed reforms will establish a clear direction and chain of command. It takes seriously the Legislative Analyst Office's recommendations to prohibit the Board from interfering with tax administration and personnel decisions. These reforms will allow staff to focus on the important work and core mission of collecting needed revenue for the State rather than dealing with the turmoil of an embattled agency.

I commend the Governor and the Legislature for providing the necessary corrective action to steer the BOE in the right direction to restore the public's trust in the hard work being done by this agency. I look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature on the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017," said Board Member Fiona Ma, CPA.

Read the May 23, 2017 letter sent to Senator Richard Roth, the April 27, 2017 letter sent to Senator Richard Roth, and the March 27, 2017 letter sent to Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Board Member Fiona Ma, CPA, was elected to the Board of Equalization in November 2014, to represent the Second Equalization District. She represents 9.5 million residents in many of California's coastal counties, from Del Norte to Santa Barbara, including the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Ma served in the California State Assembly from 2006 to 2012, serving as the first Asian woman Assembly Speaker pro Tempore since 1850. While in the Assembly, Ms. Ma focused on improving California, authoring legislation to create jobs and grow the state's economy. As an Executive Board Member of the National Conference of State Legislators, she worked to keep California's economy competitive with other states. Ms. Ma has been a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in California since 1992. For more information, visit Board Member Ma's website.

The five-member California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a publicly elected tax board. The BOE serves a significant role in the assessment and administration of property taxes.

Note: This news release may discuss complex tax laws and concepts. It may not address every situation, and is not considered written advice under Revenue and Taxation Code section 6596. Changes in law or regulations may have occurred since the time this news release was written. If there is a conflict between the text of this news release and the law, decisions will be based upon the law and not this news release.

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