Ben Franklin said, "Nothing is certain except death and taxes." With that said, the taxpayers in Contra Costa County are on life support.

For Chinese, 2014 is the "Year of the Horse." For Contra Costa taxpayers it will be the "Year of the Taxes."

In 2012, Jerry Brown conned us into approving $30 billion in tax increases, claiming these increases will only last for four or five years. So much for tax increases that have a so-called "sunset" clause. I can't name any tax that went away once it was instituted.

Now he is claiming a budget surplus but isn't offering a rebate to taxpayers if this is really true -- which it probably isn't.

Currently, California has the nation's highest statutory sales tax. California also has the nation's highest gasoline tax. For personal income-tax rates, California has the nation's highest top bracket: 13.3 percent.

"Contra Costa County has one of the highest median property taxes in the United States, and is ranked 72nd of the 3,143 counties in order of median property taxes." (Tax-rates.org) I already have 14 taxes on my property tax bill besides the basic property tax.

"Contra Costa County has a higher sales tax than 72.8 percent of California's other cities and counties." (TaxRates.com) And at least 10 Contra Costa cities have sales taxes of their own, and more are coming.

Currently known 2014 tax proposals:

Parcel taxes:

  • East county fire district.

  • Lafayette School District.

  • Acalanes high school district.

  • Doctors Hospital.

  • Contra Costa fire district (imminent).

  • Bay Area Restoration district (probable).

    Bonds:

  • Contra Costa college district.

  • West County school district.

  • Orinda roads (imminent).

    Perhaps you ask why I have included bonds as a tax. Bonds are not free. With bonds, we can build now and pay later -- and paying later will cost us at least twice as much as "pay as you go." And where does the money to pay for these bonds come from? From the taxpayer, and it's collected as an assessment on your property tax bill.

    The economy is still in turmoil. Unemployment is still high. People are still struggling with mortgages and the high cost of living. Yet the politicians seem to believe they can keep coming to the taxpayer well for more money.

    Ronald Reagan was right when he said, "The taxpayer is someone who works for the government but doesn't have to take a civil service examination."

    There are so many hands in the tax cookie jar, like the county, its cities, school districts, park districts, BART, etc., all with various taxes, fees, bonds, and other legislative actions. And then let's not forget state and federal governments.

    Howard Jarvis said, "While death and taxes may be inevitable, being taxed to death is not."

    We don't have to be taxed to death. We pay more than we should already because of poor financial management and unconscionable giveaways such as outrageous salaries and benefits to their employees by public agencies.

    Let's change 2014 from the "Year of the Taxes" to the "Year of No New Taxes." It's time for us to stand up and tell the politicians no, to live within their current revenue and to find new efficiencies, not new taxes, to balance their budgets.

    It's time to vote no on all the taxes and bonds listed above and any other new ones that may surface.

    Ken Hambrick is chairman of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers. He is a resident of Walnut Creek.