The California Taxpayers Association:
Protecting Taxpayers Since 1926
The California Taxpayers Association is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has been protecting taxpayers from unnecessary taxes – and advocating for government efficiency – since 1926.
The organization's origin actually dates back several years earlier. Dramatic increases in government spending after World War I, and the passage of state tax increases in 1921, fueled the desire to create an institutional voice for taxpayers. The California Taxation Improvement Association was formed to represent taxpayers.
Meeting at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on December 10, 1925, members of the California Tax Improvement Association discussed ways to reduce taxes, increase economy in public expenditures, and develop the work of the association. At a meeting five days later, members decided to create a successor organization, the California Taxpayers Association, to pursue these goals.
That decision was made official on February 24, 1926, in the Pacific Mutual Building in Los Angeles. The California Taxpayers Association was born, and Dr. Milbank Johnson was elected chairman of the board.
Dr. Johnson, a Pasadena physician who represented homeowners on the Board of Directors, would be the association's primary spokesman and public representative for many years. Dr. Johnson also contributed numerous articles to the association's monthly publication, the Tax Digest.
In a Los Angeles Times article in 1932, Dr. Johnson was described as "chairman of the board of the California Taxpayers Association, prominent insurance official, tax economist and economic lecturer before bodies of sectional and national scope."
He was active in numerous medical and community groups, and in 1903 he served as the second president of the Automobile Club of Southern California.
A.C. Hardison, former president of the California State Farm Bureau Federation, was elected as the first president of the California Taxpayers Association, which adopted "CalTax" as the shorthand version of its formal name. Vance Evans was executive director, and M.D. Lack was chosen to serve as vice president and tax counselor. Lack came to CalTax from the State Board of Equalization, where he had served as executive secretary from 1919 to 1926. Prior to that, he was Shasta County's assessor.
At its outset, the organization began a comprehensive study of education spending. Early work of the association also focused on local government costs and management procedures.
During its early years, CalTax successfully sponsored legislation making county budgets mandatory, and establishing the public hearing principle with open government forums. In 1926, CalTax also began making recommendations on ballot measures.
Newspaper reports from the period show that the association was received favorably by the press and public. CalTax was praised for its research and advocacy, and for its informative monthly publication, the Tax Digest. Currently, the association's primary publication is the CalTaxletter, which is published 40 times a year and is widely recognized as the most comprehensive periodical on California taxes.
CalTax also is the publisher of a respected book on the complete history of taxation in California, covering the years before statehood through 2008. "California's Tax Machine: The History of Taxing and Spending in the Golden State" was written by CalTax Chief Tax Consultant David R. Doerr, whose experience includes 24 years as chief consultant to the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, and more than 20 years with CalTax. His book has been called "the bible on California taxes" by columnist Dan Walters of The Sacramento Bee.
Since its earliest years, CalTax also has been a major participant in the state government's policy-making process, meeting with governors, providing expert policy input to the Board of Equalization and Franchise Tax Board, and educating voters on ballot measures that would impact their state taxes.
The association's research and advocacy activities are led by President Teresa Casazza, a certified public accountant and tax expert who was appointed to the position in January 2008 by the association's Board of Directors.
Casazza joined CalTax in 2005, and served as vice president and legislative director prior to becoming president. She was the association's lead advocate on issues before the Legislature and the tax agencies.
Her background in tax issues includes 11 years as vice president of state public policy for the American Electronics Association, and eight years as a state and local tax manager for Price Waterhouse. She is just the 10th chief executive in the 80-plus years CalTax has been in existence.
For information on Casazza's leadership team and CalTax's experienced policy staff, click here.