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.