Come Monday, residents in three Bay Area counties and 16 cities will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay some of the highest sales taxes in the state.
San Mateo County will join Alameda and Los Angeles counties with the loftiest countywide sales tax at 9 percent. Shelling out California's second-highest countywide sales tax will be shoppers in Santa Clara County, paying an 8.75 percent rate that mirrors San Francisco County, while Marin County will move up to 8.5 percent.
A trio of cities in Los Angeles County already reached the 10 percent mark, and Moraga, Half Moon Bay and Albany will come perilously close at 9.5 percent.
"Oh dear, that's not good," said Albany resident Zetta Lynne Poli when informed that the sales tax in Albany will soon go from the current 9 percent to 9.5 percent. She said it won't make a big difference for her because she doesn't shop that much, and when she does, she often shops by mail.
But the tax hike will hit family members who visit Poli twice a year. They all go to local restaurants, where of course they do pay sales tax, she said.
Likewise, in Moraga, where the sales tax is growing from 8.5 percent to 9.5 percent, Linda York, 67, said she didn't remember voting for Measure K, which will raise proceeds for road and infrastructure repairs.
But the longtime Moraga resident said she supports helping the community locally. "If we want services, we need to pay taxes," she said.
The local taxes come on top of a quarter cent, statewide sales tax increase, authorized when California voters backed Proposition 30 in November. Proposition 30 is expected to generate an additional $6 billion a year through the new sales tax as well as an income tax increase for those making $250,000 or more a year. The sales tax hike took effect Jan. 1 and will help fund schools, community colleges and public safety services.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which regularly opposes tax hikes, is amused by the April Fool's Day timing of the new taxes.
"Actually, it's a lot of fooling" of state taxpayers, he said, adding that he can see no end in sight to the number of taxes -- including a new statewide gas tax that goes into effect in July and will be the highest in the nation -- "until voters start electing more responsible representatives."
Since 1974, local sales taxes can go into effect no sooner than 110 days following their passage, according to state law, but only on the first day of a calendar year quarter: Jan. 1, April 1, July 1 or Oct. 1.
"Ouch," said Mountain View resident Cody Valerio of the 1/8th cent sales tax increase in Santa Clara County, which was approved -- like most of the other Bay Area increases -- by voters in November. The 10-year tax will raise about $50 million annually for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and county public health and welfare programs.
Valerio voted against the tax because she doesn't believe in funding social services through a flat tax. She'd rather support those services through her private donations.
"No matter how much we increase it, it's never enough," Valerio said of new taxes. Besides, she added, "Didn't we just have a tax hike in January?"
Voters in San Mateo County and the city of Half Moon Bay approved measures that will bring in about $60 million a year for the county and $875,000 for Half Moon Bay.
But Charise McHugh, president of the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce, said she isn't worried the tax will be a drag on the local economy.
"We are a destination with unique and fabulous shops and unbelievable restaurants," McHugh said. "I don't think a few cents more on sales tax will be a deterrent to visit or shop in our town."
Staff writers Aaron Kinney and Jennifer Modenessi contributed to this report.
Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 275-0140.
In California, 24 cities and three counties will start collecting new sales taxes on Monday, April 1.
Here's where they'll be increased around the Bay Area and what the new sales tax rate will be:
Rio Vista: 8.375%
MARIN COUNTY: 8.5%
San Rafael: 9%
SAN MATEO COUNTY: 9%
Half Moon Bay: 9.5%
San Mateo: 9.25%
SANTA CLARA COUNTY: 8.75%
Source: State Board of Equalization