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Close Prop. 13 tax loophole for corporations

As a religious leader in the Inland Empire, I recognize that it is surprising to see me weighing into a tax debate — an area that is pretty far outside my usual focus. But when tax policy begins to affect our ability to take care of the sick, the poor and infirm, then it is something we have to address.

The budgetary policies we’re seeing coming out of the federal government are a moral obscenity. The Trump administration plans to cut over $2 trillion in taxes for major corporations, paid for at the expense of vital programs that the Inland Empire relies upon like education, health care access, housing and public services like Meals on Wheels.

While those of us here in California are fighting back against the federal government in our own way, we can stand up in favor of self-governance and self-reliance by returning some of that money back for local governments right here in the Inland Empire, by ending a massive tax loophole unique to California that is currently flowing to wealthy corporations.

Proposition 13 was a policy passed in California to protect homeowners from losing their homes, by limiting the assessed value of their property from increasing over time. However, Proposition 13 also contained a loophole that allows big corporations to claim the same protections as homeowners — a protection the corporations get in no other state in the country. It’s a nonsensical policy that allows these corporations to reap over $9 billion per year — over 75 percent of which goes to a small handful of properties that are worth over $5 million.

It gets worse. This policy artificially inflates the cost of land, which means more expensive housing, and more people living on the streets.

By rolling back this corporate tax loophole, we can fill in the devastating gap being left by our federal government’s cruel and heartless budget.

Luckily, there’s a policy being considered that would bring a change to this terrible policy. “Make it Fair” is a coalition of organizations — of which we are members — that seeks to fix Proposition 13 to roll back the corporate tax loophole, while protecting small businesses, homeowners, and renters.

The Make it Fair proposal would ensure that small businesses — which currently have a difficult time competing with major corporations that receive this generous loophole — would be protected, and would dedicate resources to important services like community health clinics, trauma care and our neighborhood schools.

We don’t like to step into the realm of politics if we can avoid it — but certain things aren’t about politics, they’re about right and wrong.

Ending a policy that benefits the wealthy few at the expense of the many is as close as we are going to get to a clear-cut example of right versus wrong.

With Washington, D.C., pulling back from compassion, and replacing it with greed and gluttony, California must end the Proposition 13 corporate loophole so that we can take care of our people as well as we can. It’s time to put people first, not corporations.

Pastor Benjamin Briggs of COPE (Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement) has been the pastor at Greater Light Community Church in Perris for over 20 years.

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