A small business owner. Photo courtesy Small Business Administration

By Amy Blum

Small businesses are drivers of economic growth, and represent the entrepreneurial spirit that is intrinsic to California. I should know. I own one of the roughly four million small businesses in California.

Unfortunately, the deck is stacked against us. While we struggle to overcome the challenges of the current health crisis, just like everybody else, a handful of multinationals like Disney and Chevron — along with exclusive country clubs across San Diego County — are enjoying the windfalls of a corporate tax loophole that puts the rest of us in a competitive disadvantage.

While the vast majority of small businesses are paying commercial property taxes at current market value, these corporate fat cats are paying 1978 rates while charging us 2020 prices.

If that wasn’t enough, these corporations and their fancy army of lawyers are depriving our schools and communities from the very funding we need to help all of us get ahead, especially during times like these. When they don’t pay their fair share, small businesses and families like mine pay the difference. It is unfair and immoral.

That’s why, as a small business owner and a parent, I am urging you to vote yes on Proposition 15. It will ensure these corporations pay their fair share while leveling the playing field for small businesses and supporting our schools and communities.

Prop. 15 is fair and balanced reform that will benefit every school, every city and every community college in the County of San Diego. It does this while cutting taxes to small businesses to help them recover and rebuild, which is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic that has harmed our economy so much.

These big corporations and their allies are so desperate to protect the status quo that they are engaging in a massive disinformation campaign to confuse and misinform people into voting against their best interests. Don’t let them fool you. These special interests are not looking out for small businesses, homeowners and renters — they are only looking out for themselves.

Here’s something the opposition doesn’t want to talk about: property taxes don’t dictate business lease rates or consumer prices, the market does. Let me give you an example. An intersection has four gas stations in every corner, and three of them pay current market rates for their respective properties. The fourth one pays 1978 taxes. Do you think this last gas station charges less for gas? No, it charges roughly the same because the market dictates gas prices. It’s the same with business rental leases.

Prop. 15 will close this ridiculous corporate tax loophole and will generate about $12 billion per year for schools and communities across California. That includes an estimated $700 million per year for local cities to fund emergency response, youth programs and street repair; to local K-12 schools for teachers, books, counselors and science equipment; and to special districts for water delivery, fire protection and healthcare. Building that kind of infrastructure is good for small businesses as well because when our communities thrive, so do entrepreneurs.

Prop. 15 only affects big businesses whose properties are valued at more than $3 million, making sure that small businesses can continue to succeed. According to a USC study, 90% of all business property is valued under $3 million. This will affect the top 10%. They are the ones who have not been paying their fair share for decades and would be required to do so under Prop. 15.

This election season, we have the opportunity to make a change that would benefit all Californians for generations to come, and give small businesses a better chance to compete and succeed. Putting businesses on an equal footing so they can compete is good for business, good for consumers, and good for San Diego County. All of us, regardless of who we are or where we come from, would benefit from voting yes on Prop 15.

Amy Blum is a small business owner in San Diego.

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