Vote button trans.png
April's Project of the Month
It's spring time. It's primary election season!
Click here to find all the information you'll need to cast your ballot.




California Utility User Taxes

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Utility User Taxes (UUTs) in California are taxes that cities and counties are allow to impose on the consumption of certain utility services. As of September 2008, city and county UUTs generated about $2 billion per year in tax revenues.

About 146 California cities and 4 counties have a UUT. In nearly all these cases, the UUT was adopted prior to 1996 through a vote of the city council or the County Board of Supervisors. However, after the 1996 passage of Prop 218, to pass such a tax, the voters who would be paying the tax had to approve it directly through voting on a ballot measure.

About half of all California residents pay a UUT, because although the tax only applies in a relatively small minority of California cities, the cities in which it does apply includes nearly all of the cities in the state with higher populations.

Voter approval of UUTs

From June 2002 through June 2008, 83 utility user tax measures were placed before voters by cities and counties. Two of these were county measures and 81 were for cities.

  • 30 proposals were for new or increased UUTs. Only six of these proposals were approved.
  • 19 of the 30 were for an increase in the UUT tax rate. Only two of those passed.
  • 19 measures asked to increase an existing UUT past a built-in sunset period. 16 of those measures passed.

There has been a trend in recent years for cities with UUTs to change their ordinances to ensure that it applies to all modern forms of telecommunications (wireless and internet) and billing methods (flat rates).

  • 23 cities proposed such changes between June 2002 and June 2008. 22 of those requests were approved.
  • Citizens placed 14 referenda placed on the ballot seeking to repeal or alter local UUTs.
    • Seven measures seeking total repeal failed.
  • Four out of five measures seeking to reduce the UUT tax rate failed.
  • In Greenfield, voters reduced their UUT from 6% to 3%.
  • A referendum to restrict the use of UUT revenues to law enforcement services passed in Seaside (Monterey County) in November 2002.

Taxable utilities

The list of utilities that can be taxed with a UUT includes:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Telephone (including cell phones and long distance services)
  • Sanitation
  • Cable television.

UUT tax rates

City UUTs range from a low of 1% to a high of 11%.

The rate of a UUT is set by the city in which it is levied. UUT's can be imposed:

  • As a special tax.
  • Earmarked for a specific purpose.
  • As a general tax to be used for a variety of municipal service needs at the discretion of the city council.

The tax is levied by the city, and then collected by the relevant utility as a part of its regular billing procedure. The utility then sends the tax it has collected on behalf of the city to the city.

Some cities charge different tax rates for residential usage versus commercial usage.

Counties with a UUT

Just four of California's 58 counties levy a UUT. They are:

UUTs and the FET

Many of the UUTs in California refer to the Federal Excise Tax (FET) in defining which utilities are covered by the tax. The FET does not cover certain telecommunications services. FET, for instance, does not cover:

  • Telephone calls which are not charged based on both time and distance (those paid by coin in phone booths, for example).
  • Any cell phone bills which are based on a package which provides a mix of local and long-distance calling for a flat rate. (In 2007, the IRS ruled that telephone service packages which provide a mix of local and long-distance calling for a flat rate or a fixed fee are not subject to the FET.)

When California cities realized that the wording of their UUT ordinance, by tying which utilities are covered by the tax to the FET's definition, did not allow them to extend their UUT to charging the tax on cell phone usage. Since cell phone usage is becoming more common, even replacing landline use, especially for younger people, cities feared loss of UUT revenues.

As a result, a number of city councils began putting before voters ballot measures to change the ordinance defining which telecommunications services could be taxed with their local UUT so that they could tax cell phone usage.

Election results

2013

April 9

See also April 9, 2013 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Vernon Utility Users Tax, Measure M Los Angeles Pending

March 5

See also March 5, 2013 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Monterey Park Utility Users Tax, Measure MP-DD Los Angeles Approveda


City of Rialto Utility User Tax Extension, Measure W San Bernardino Approveda


2012

November 6

See also November 6, 2012 election in California

Ten utility tax measures were on the November 6, 2012 ballot in nine different counties.

Measure County Outcome
Arcata (City of), Measure I Humboldt Approveda


Bellflower (City of), Measure P Los Angeles Approveda


Berkeley (City of), Measure Q Alameda Approveda


Chico (City of), Measure J Butte Defeatedd


Citrus Heights, Measure K Sacramento Defeatedd


Downey (City of), Measure D Los Angeles Approveda


Los Alamitos (City of), Measure DD Orange Approveda


Needles (City of), Measure T San Bernardino Approveda


Pinole (City of), Measure M Contra Costa Approveda


San Luis Obispo (City of), Measure D San Luis Obispo Approveda


September 18

See also September 18, 2012 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Vernon, Measure A Los Angeles Approveda


June 5

See also June 5, 2012 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
Foresthill PUD, Measure C Placer Approveda


Parlier, Measure S Fresno Defeatedd


Stanton, Measure J Orange Defeatedd


April 10

See also April 10, 2012 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
Bradbury, Measure A Los Angeles Defeatedd


Sierra Madre, Measure 12-1 Los Angeles Defeatedd


Sierra Madre, Measure 12-2 Los Angeles Defeatedd


2011

November 8

See also November 8, 2011 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
Brawley, Measure K Imperial Approveda


Holtville, Measure M Imperial Defeatedd


Holtville, Measure N Imperial Defeatedd


Holtville, Measure O Imperial Defeatedd


Modesto, Measure N Stanislaus Approveda


South Pasadena, Measure UT Los Angeles Approveda


June 7

See also June 7, 2011 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
Rio Vista Rollback, Measure A Solano Defeatedd


2010

November 2

See also November 2, 2010 election in California
Measure County
Albany, Measure O Alameda Approveda


Bellflower, Measure A Los Angeles Defeatedd


Chula Vista, Measure H San Diego Defeatedd


El Segundo, Measure O Los Angeles Defeatedd


Elk Grove, Measure J Sacramento Approveda


Guadalupe, Measure P Santa Barbara Defeatedd


Huntington Beach, Measure P Orange Approveda


Indio, Measure S Riverside Approveda


La Palma, Measure U Orange Approveda


Lincoln, Measure K Placer Defeatedd


Mountain View, Measure T Santa Clara Approveda


Newark, Measure U Alameda Approveda


Oakland, Measure W Alameda Defeatedd


Oroville, Measure A Butte Approveda


Pinole, Measure S Contra Costa Defeatedd


Placentia, Measure W Orange Approveda


Pleasant Hill, Measure T Contra Costa Defeatedd


Pomona, Measure SP Los Angeles Defeatedd


Port Hueneme, Measure G Ventura Approveda


Rancho Cordova, Measure E Sacramento Approveda


Santa Cruz City, Measure H Santa Cruz Approveda


Santa Fe Springs, Measure S Los Angeles Approveda


June 8

See also June 8, 2010 election in California
Measure County Outcome
Coachella, Measure I Riverside Approveda


Mammoth Lakes, Measure U Mono Approveda


Winters, Measure W Yolo Approveda


April 13

See also April 13, 2010 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
El Segundo, Measure M Los Angeles Approveda


2009

November 3

See also November 3, 2009 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
Coachella, Measure M Riverside Defeatedd


Cupertino Measure B Santa Clara Approveda


Dinuba Measure M Tulare Approveda


Huntington Park Measure E Los Angeles Approveda


Irwindale Measure U Los Angeles Approveda


Newark, Measure L Alameda Defeatedd


Palm Springs, Measure G Riverside Approveda


Pico Rivera Measure TR Los Angeles Approveda


Pomona Measure PC Los Angeles Approveda


Portola Valley, Measure P San Mateo Approveda


Redondo Beach UU Los Angeles Defeatedd


Tulare Measure N Tulare Approveda


Vallejo, Measure U Solano Approveda


June 9

See also June 9, 2009 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Arcadia Utility Users Tax, Measure A (June 2009) Los Angeles Approveda


May 19

See also May 19, 2009 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Hayward Utility Users Tax, Measure A (May 2009) Alameda Approveda


City of Desert Hot Springs Utility Users Tax, Measure A (May 2009) Riverside Approveda


City of Rancho Cordova Utility Users Tax, Measure B (May 2009) Sacramento Defeatedd


March 3

See also March 3, 2009 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Bellflower Utility User Tax, Measure A (March 2009) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Carson Utility User Tax, Measure C (March 2009) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Gardena Utility User Tax, Measure A (March 2009) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Redondo Beach Utility User Tax, Measure A (March 2009) Los Angeles Approveda


2008

November 4

See also November 4, 2008 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Cathedral City Utility Users Tax, Measure L (November 2008) Riverside Approveda


Eureka Sales Tax/Utility Tax Measure D Humboldt Approveda


City of Hawthorne Utility Users Tax, Measure V (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Hemet Utility Users Tax, Measure O (November 2008) Riverside Defeatedd


Holtville Measure C, 2008 Imperial Defeatedd


City of Indio Utility Users Tax, Measure K (November 2008) Riverside Approveda


City of Inglewood Utility Users Tax, Measure UUT (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Lakewood Utility Users Tax, Measure L (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Long Beach Utility Users Tax, Measure G (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


Unincorporated Areas of the County of Los Angeles Utility Users Tax, Measure U (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Lynwood Utility Users Tax, Measures HH and II (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Moreno Valley Utility Users Tax, Measure P (November 2008) Riverside Approveda


City of Morgan Hill Utility Users Tax, Measure G (November 2008) Santa Clara Defeatedd


City of Pomona Utility Users Tax, Measure PC (November 2008) Los Angeles Defeatedd


Rossmoor Incorporation and Utility Tax, Measures U-A, U-B and U-C (November 2008) Orange Defeatedd


City of Sacramento Utility Users Tax, Measure O (November 2008) Sacramento Approveda


San Francisco Telephone Tax, Proposition O (November 2008) San Francisco Approveda


City of San Gabriel Utility Users Tax, Measure SG (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of San Jose Telecommunications Taxes, Measures J and K (November 2008) Santa Clara Approveda


City of San Leandro Utility Users Tax, Measure RR (November 2008) Alameda Approveda


City of Santa Barbara Utility Users Tax, Measure G (November 2008) Santa Barbara Approveda


County of Santa Cruz Emergency Response Fees and Taxes, Measure B (November 2008) Santa Cruz Defeatedd


City of Santa Monica Telecommunications Tax, Measure SM (November 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Seaside Utility Tax Repeal, Measure E (November 2008) Monterey Defeatedd


Sebastopol Utility User Tax, Measure M (November 2008) Sonoma Approveda


Stockton Utility User Tax, Measure U (November 2008) San Joaquin Approveda


City of Watsonville Telephone Tax, Measure C (November 2008) Santa Cruz Defeatedd


June 3

See also June 3, 2008 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
Alameda County Measure F (2008) Alameda Approveda


City of Covina Utility Tax, Measure C (June 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Oakland Utility Users Tax, Measure J (June 2008) Alameda Approveda


City of Torrance Utility Users Tax, Measure T (June 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


City of Winters Utility Users Tax, Measure T (June 2008) Yolo Approveda


City of McFarland Utility Users Tax, Measure E (June 2008) Kern Defeatedd


April 8

Measure County Outcome
Culver City Utility Users Tax, Measure W (April 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


Malibu Utility Users Tax, Measure D (April 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


Sierra Madre Utility Users Tax, Measures U and UA (April 2008) Los Angeles Approveda


February 5

See also February 5, 2008 ballot measures in California
Measure County Outcome
City of Richmond, Measure B Contra Costa Approveda


City of Arcata, Measure A Humboldt Approveda


City of Huntington Park, Measure B Los Angeles Approveda


City of Pasadena, Measure D Los Angeles Approveda


City of Los Angeles, Proposition S Los Angeles Approveda


City of San Bernardino, Measure L San Bernardino Approveda


External links