State Board of Equalization Member Antonio Vazquez was elected January 24 to chair the board and Member Sally Lieber was elected to serve as vice chair in 2023.
As chair, Vazquez also will serve as an ex officio member of the three-person Franchise Tax Board (along with State Controller Malia Cohen and Department of Finance Director Joe Stephenshaw).
Vazquez, whose District 3 encompasses all of Los Angeles County, previously chaired the BOE and served on the FTB in 2020 and 2021.
“Given the challenges of the housing crisis, the board is working with stakeholders to tackle California’s housing shortage,” Vazquez said after the election. “The BOE co-administers the welfare exemption, and with its property tax administration and oversight duties, the board will continue to focus on finding potential solutions in making housing affordable in California.”
All four district-elected BOE members were nominated for the leadership position (Vazquez was nominated by Lieber). Vazquez was elected with votes from Lieber, Cohen, and himself.
Cohen nominated Lieber as chair, saying the former lawmaker and new BOE member “has incredible leadership skills,” but Lieber said that as “the new kid on the block” she would “like to defer to the members who have been here longer.”
Lieber, participating in her first meeting since being elected with 69 percent of the vote in District 2, said she believes “assistance for the small businesses … is critically important,” as they are “the heart and soul of California.”
In other action from the BOE meeting:
New Deputy State Controller for Taxation. Cohen, who was sworn in as state controller at the beginning of the year, announced that Hasib Emran will be her deputy controller for taxation, representing her on the BOE and the FTB.
Emran has worked for Cohen for the past eight years, dating back to her service on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and most recently as a special advisor during her service on the BOE. His prior experience includes working in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a judicial law clerk for the Contra Costa County Superior Court, as a jewelry consultant for Zale Jewelers, and as a substitute teacher in the Antioch Unified School district during the 2016-17 school year.
“I feel like we can continue the work and the momentum that the Board of Equalization has moving into this new term and really taking this board to new heights,” Emran said.
Information Being Prepared for Senior Property Owners. Lisa Thompson, head of the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Office, said the office is preparing a new information sheet on property tax assistance programs for seniors. CalTax recommended such a publication during a 2022 meeting of the BOE’s Advisory Council, noting that the association frequently is contacted by seniors who want to know whether any relief is available for elderly homeowners who cannot afford their property taxes. During the Advisory Council discussion, BOE staff indicated that they also field many questions on this issue. Information currently is available on various sites, including the state controller’s webpage about the Property Tax Postponement Program, but council members noted that a comprehensive document from the BOE would be useful for taxpayers. CalTax recommended that the document include information about parcel taxes and the process for applying for exemptions, as many parcel taxes have exemptions for seniors, but the application process can be confusing.