It's too early to embrace or condemn a blue-ribbon panel's plan for reworking California's tax structure. After all, the report isn't finished; the Commission on the 21st Century Economy was still working on it as its Sept. 20 deadline slipped past. And that was after panelists got an extension from their July deadline. Which was itself an extension from their April deadline.
It's easy to sympathize with them for not getting their homework in on time. They're seeking an answer to a very touchy question: Who ought to bear the brunt of California's tax burden?
Although the report is not finished, drafts are circulating, and the main points have been discussed over months at commission hearings. Here's the gist: California's personal income taxes would be lowered and vastly simplified, from six brackets to two; the state's portion of the sales tax would be eliminated; and about half the state's revenue would come from a new business receipts tax, analogous in some ways (but not all) to a European-style value-added tax.
It's enough to raise some concerns that must be addressed after the report is in and can be thoroughly analyzed. First, is the plan perhaps a bit too innovative? A business receipts tax would no doubt be challenged by out-of-state service providers, and if it fails in court, half of California's revenue might go with it. Being creative is good. Being reckless is not.