California firework disposal tax

LAGUNA HILLS – Who doesn’t love fireworks? Assemblyman Tim Donnelly certainly does. In fact he seems to love them so much, that according to him taxing their sales would be a “tax on patriotism.”

In an interview with Bloombersg, Donnelly says that “when you tax something, you end up getting less of it and this is a tax on patriotism…If you tax patriotism, you will get fewer displays of it.”

But why are we talking about taxing fireworks anyway? As it turns out, leftover and confiscated fireworks are an expensive thorn in the side of California’s budget. In the same article, Bloomberg reports that to dispose of a pound of fireworks costs the state about $10. How many pounds do we currently have waiting for disposal you ask? Oh, just 300,000 or so. At an average of $10 per pound, that’s $3,000,000 of latent fun we have sitting around in bunkers across the state.

How do we solve this dilemma? Well, we can’t simply burn them in a pit anymore (largely due to pollution from plastic packaging), so a spectacular post-July 4th bonfire is out of the question.

Enter the proposed tax. Last year California residents, businesses and local governments bought about 244,500,000 pounds of fireworks, with the industry bringing in nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2013. The proposed tax will levee 10 cents per pound of fireworks sold, generating an estimated $1.5 million annually to be used for disposal, a good step in the right direction and at a fairly low cost to the consumer. And besides, shouldn’t the financial burden to dispose of fireworks properly be paid by those using them in the first place?

Plus, it’s 10 cents per pound! If this tax would cost you an extra dollar per year, then you are having one heck of a personal display setting off 10 pounds of fireworks. For most, this will be an entirely unnoticeable addition at checkout.

But yea-saying lawmakers are facing stiff opposition across the aisle from taxes-are-the-devil thinking politicians like Tim Donnelly. So instead lawmakers are sourcing the funding from elsewhere, such as $1.5 million of Brown’s $156 billion budget passed last month going to fireworks disposal. Brown also attempted to permanently allocate $500,000 annually for fireworks disposal via the general fund, but this was stricken before the budget went to vote.

What do you think? Should paying for fireworks disposal be the responsibility of all taxpayers, or just the ones that purchase them?

Attorney John Rosenbaum is a  practicing Laguna Hills Workers Compensation and Personal Injury lawyer, serving Orange County over 35 years. John has had a 99.8% success rate and collected more than $50,000,000 for his clients.

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