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Steve Lunetta: Renovation reveals new tax rip-offs

Posted: November 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Our money pit known as the Meadview house is coming along nicely.

For those of you who are unaware, Trish and I bought a fixer-upper disaster in Placerita Canyon last year. Every spare dime has been going into renovations. And aspirin to relieve my headaches.

Living in a fixer-upper is certainly a challenge. There is always a project going on with the accompanying dust, mess and commotion. Everything is higgledy-piggledy. And for a neat freak like myself, it’s difficult to bear.

This is especially true when I come home from work and my lovely bride has knocked down a wall and says (with a big smile): “Look how much more room we have!”

I don’t suppose she notices the water spraying from the broken plumbing or the electrical shorts arcing from the sockets.

Home Depot, of course, loves us. Particularly the paint department. For paint “doth cover a multitude of sins.” However, sometimes sin is perpetrated through paint.

In 2010, AB 1343 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was called the Paint Recovery Act and had the laudable goal of “requiring paint manufacturers to develop and implement a program to collect, transport and process post-consumer paint to reduce the costs and environmental impacts of the disposal of post-consumer paint in this state.”

Fair enough. It had the support of Ace Hardware, Dunn-Edwards and paint industry groups. But also, it was supported by the Sierra Club, Ecology Action and other environmental groups. Uh-oh.

Unfortunately, there was scant opposition to the bill. The paint industry was on board since it saw the writing on the wall. In red paint.

Members of the industry became part of the process to help influence the direction of the program. To their benefit, of course. They engineered the program to pass all of the costs to you and me.

When I went to Home Depot recently, I saw a small notice on the counter that this new law became effective Oct. 19. In essence, retailers are required to collect a tax on every container of paint sold.

This will fund a new network of paint recycling centers and bureaucracy. It will reduce paint waste, make our environment safer, feed the world and make it safe for democracy.

For a one-gallon container of paint, we are charged 75 cents. For a five-gallon container, the tax is $1.60.

I asked the Home Depot paint guy how many gallons they sell a day. He said roughly 200 gallons. I rapidly calculated that my Home Depot collects about $1,000 per week, $52,000 per year. That is just one distributor.

I figure that there are about 10 high-volume paint sellers in the Santa Clarita Valley — Home Depots, Lowes, Wal-Marts etc. I won’t count the smaller guys.

This means that the state rakes in about a cool half a million for paint recycling per year from just our valley.

Wow. Someone is making some huge money, and I know it ain’t me.

When I bought my one gallon of flat swiss coffee, I noticed that the charge only showed up at the register. It was on my receipt but not added into the cost of the paint on the shelf.

I never would have seen it had I not been looking for it.

But here is the big kicker: the 75 cents was added to the bill, which was then assessed sales tax. That means I was charged a tax upon a tax!

We have now gone beyond the basic tenants of common sense. We have allowed a system to be built that is a complete distortion of reasonable taxation.

And don’t think this is the end.

From what I have read, the individuals responsible for this lunacy are now contemplating a similar stewardship program for prescription medications.

Yes — you read that correctly. Imagine being charged a dollar or two for every bottle of medicine to finance a system of “medication recycling centers.”

This is what we are buying, my fellow Californians. An out-of-control state government that taxes and taxes with impunity. Businesses and citizens are hurt and money flows to entities of unknown shape and substance.

No accountability, no understanding.

I wonder if I can stretch this one can of paint to cover two bedrooms? Maybe I’ll just leave the walls a “natural” drywall color.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and feels like a frog in a pot of water on a stove. He can be reached at


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