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Tony Strickland: Don’t penalize citizens with ‘crash tax’

SCV Voices

Posted: January 22, 2011 9:38 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2011 4:30 a.m.

Suppose you and your family take a vacation to our state Capitol. You pay for plane tickets up to Sacramento. You pay for a rental car for the week. You pay for a hotel. Every day, you pay for food and entertainment for your family. You pay for all this, including the local sales tax imposed by the city.

Then, suppose you get into a car accident, and the police or fire department is dispatched to the scene of the accident.

Luckily, everyone is OK, but imagine your surprise when you come home from vacation to find a bill from the city of Sacramento in your mailbox.

If local governments have their way, this could be the norm. Called a “crash tax,” cities such as Sacramento are proposing laws that would allow police and fire departments to send a bill to nonresidents who get into accidents within their city limits.

Unfortunately, the crash tax is already being enacted in cities across California. Roseville, north of Sacramento, and Fallbrook, north of San Diego, have both passed city ordinances that allow for a crash tax. Cities in Southern California, as well as the city of Sacramento, have all considered adopting crash-tax ordinances. Because you’ve already paid local sales taxes on food, entertainment and lodging, these crash taxes basically amount to a double tax.

Hard-working Californians are already struggling to make ends meet, and simply cannot afford yet another tax. People who work hard and who budget carefully for a family vacation should not have to spend their hard-earned money on a crash tax.

What’s worse, a crash-tax law wouldn’t just hurt those who are on vacation. Especially in Southern California, many people live in a different city than the city in which they work. If the city of Los Angeles were to pass a crash-tax law, people who commute to work — and arguably spend most of their time and much of their paycheck there — would also be responsible for paying a crash tax in the event of an accident.

Enough is enough. This is why I’ve authored legislation that would prohibit city governments from passing crash-tax ordinances.

Senate Bill 49 would ban a local government from charging a fee or tax to any person, regardless of whether or not they live there, for the cost related to dispatching an emergency responder.

Californians, regardless of the city in which they live, work or visit, should be awarded certain public-safety protections. They should be allowed to commute to work or travel on vacation without having to worry about a bill awaiting them when they get home.

These crash taxes are just another way for local governments to shift the responsibility of providing public safety over to the taxpayers. Californians are already taxed to the max, and should not have to bear yet another burden.

State Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, represents the 19th District, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. E-mail him at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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