Every December, The Franchise Tax Board, Cakifornia's income tax agency, holds The Annual Taxpayers Bill of Rights Meeting, where they welcome suggestions from the public on how to improve! You can make suggestions on changes to policies and/or tax laws that will improve “the system” for all Californians.
This year’s meeting is on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 1:30 pm. The meeting location is: The Franchise Tax Board, 9646 Butterfield Way, Town Center, Gerald Goldberg Auditorium, Sacramento, California, 95827. An RSVP is not required, but it is appreciated. You may RSVP to FTBAdvocate@ftb.ca.gov. More information is here: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/about-ftb/meetings/index.html#Taxpayers-Bill-of-Rights-hearings
During the meeting, the FTB will invite people up to the microphone one at a time to give their suggestions out loud to the FTB’s Board Members (who are currently Betty Yee, State Controller, Keely Bosler, Director of the Department of Finance, and Malia Cohen, Board of Equalization Chairman) and the FTB’s leadership staff. The FTB will be given time to respond. Here is an example of how the speeches go: https://vimeo.com/311228307?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=29220
If you cannot attend in person, you can still submit a suggestion! Simply send an email to FTBAdvocate@ftb.ca.gov with your suggestion before the meeting. They would prefer them by November 26, but they will accept suggestions up until the meeting day.
All Policy Change Suggestions will get a response, called a Formal Resolution, by February 1, 2020.
You may be wondering why you’ve never heard about this meeting before? I mean, if they do it every year, you should have heard about it at some point, right?
This ability to make requests at the Annual Taxpayer Bill of Rights Meeting is actually a California State Right, pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 21006(b)(2). Even though the FTB does technically meet the minimum required by law to inform the public of these meetings by putting a small blurb on their website (the blurb implies that you must attend in person in order to make a request), the reality is that they keep these meetings on the down low from the general public.
In 2017, I asked that the FTB fully disclose this right to the general public. In her Formal Resolution from 2017, the Taxpayer’s Advocate wrote“…Meeting with a representative cross-section of industry and tax professionals allows us to hear the concerns of taxpayers, the majority of which now engage tax professionals. Additionally, we contact our Trade Media partners and others prior to the annual meeting to also gauge their concerns and those of the individuals and businesses they represent.”
I found this answer unacceptable. In my opinion, hiding this Right from the Taxpayers at large, then assigning this right to a proxy without informing the Taxpayer of this proxy system, and choosing a proxy who only represents the upper classes, thus leaving the working poor taxpayers unrepresented, is a clear violation of California State Taxpayer Rights.
Furthermore, the FTB also acts as a debt collection agency for various other California Government Agencies. If the FTB is only soliciting feedback from tax professionals and tax trade publications, then a huge swath of the FTB’s “customer base” is omitted from any kind of representation, as well. I hear complaints all the time about unfair debt collection practices imposed by the FTB, and denying the collectee’s this opportunity to address these unfair practices is a clear violation of our State Right.
I am trying to spread the word about this State Right. Please share this information with other California Taxpayers. Let’s flood the meeting with suggestions on how to improve the FTB! Let’s band together in a positive, constructive and legal way to demand that the broken system be fixed!