Guest Post: The Predatory State of California, Part 2

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The Predatory State of California, Part 2

Due process and rule of law have been replaced with "legalized" looting and harrassment by government in America.

Yesterday's entry Welcome to the Predatory State of California--Even If You Don't Live There generated dozens of emails recounting similar stories of "we don't need no stinkin' due process" looting and "fishing expeditions" by California and other state/local governments.

Let's begin with correspondent (and Arizona resident since 2001) R.T.'s experience of his account being looted without prior notice or due process by the state of California to the tune of $1,343. R.T. finally reached an employee of the State Franchise Tax Board and received an explanation.

The state representative stated that "we don't try to contact the person involved," i.e. the taxpayer whose account is about to be looted. The rep went on to explain that the state had received a 1099 from a financial institution for the year 2006 and had promptly stolen the citizen's money in the event that tax was owed to California.

Everyone who believes the government is "here to help disadvantaged people" needs to wake up and ask what kind of government we have when due process has been replaced with "legal" looting. R.T. reported the income in question on his 2006 Federal and Arizona tax return. Wouldn't common sense, not to mention common law, suggest that the state of California should be required to ask the citizen who now resided in another state if the income in question had been reported in that state?

How about notifying the citizen of the state's claim and his/her rights to present facts relating to the state's claim?

There was no due process. How can this be legal in a nation that is nominally governed by rule of law? First the state steals the $1,343 and authorizes its parasitic predatory bag-"person" Wells Fargo Bank to steal another $100 for handling the state's theft.

A week or two later the citizen is notified of the theft as a fait accompli. Now the onus is on the law-abiding citizen to attempt to reclaim his own money from a distant, all-powerful Kafkaesque state agency. How can this be legal in a nation supposedly operating under rule of law?

Let's be very clear about what happens here in America on a daily basis:

1. The state (or other agency of government) steals citizen's money without due process.

2. Then, in a move akin to the executioner making the condemned buy his own death bullet, the state authorizes the "too big to fail" corporate bank which received billions in taxpayer bailouts to steal $100 from the citizen for the digital theft of his money by the state.

3. If the citizen needed that money to pay rent, buy medication to stay alive, etc., tough luck, Buckwheat, the state of California has your money before they notify you of the purported tax liability or provide due process or recourse and now you enter the Kafkaesque insanity of pleading for a "refund" of your own money from an agency designed to thwart transparency and the reclamation of your own money.

So if you get evicted and are living in a cardboard box and pass away due to inability to buy your meds, hey, the State of California's political class and special interests could care less: they want your money and the rule of law means nothing to them.

If you understand that a purported tax liability is one issue and due process is another far more important issue, then you understand that we now live in an authoritarian nation where "rule of law" is only invoked at the convenience of the political and financial Elites for propaganda purposes.

The state of California has three basic methods of looting law-abiding citizens:

1. The old "you didn't pay a $25 filing fee, the fine is now $499 which we took from your bank account." Never mind you have the cancelled check endorsed by the state, proving they received it and cashed it; the Board of Kafkaesque Authority claims "we didn't get the check" and loots your account for the $499 (true story.)

2. "Fishing expeditions" where companies and citizens are dunned for taxes and fees they might owe, though there is no evidence they do in fact owe fees and taxes. I received many emails describing these fishing expeditions, for example, merely having a license is "evidence" that you must have unreported income.

3. Enforce all sorts of dubious claims, most importantly:

A. That anyone collecting a pension from work performed while residing in California is liable for California taxes on that pension, regardless of where they live;

B. Any income resulting from something invented in California must be reported as income in California, regardless of where the income is derived from or where the inventor now lives.

In other words, residency has no meaning. Any income remotely connected to California--for example, you had the idea while residing in the state--obligates you to pay California income tax on that idea in perpetuity.

Lest you think this far-fetched, please consider this report sent to me by correspondent J.J.: Will California Gamble in Las Vegas? The Stakes are High in the Gilbert Hyatt Case:

To summarize, the California FTB sued Gilbert Hyatt, an inventor of a microprocessor chip, for tax fraud. The FTB claimed that Mr. Hyatt did not file a return for the income derived from his invention. Mr. Hyatt claimed he was already a Nevada resident at the time he invented the chip; California claimed otherwise. Whether that case has merit is still to be decided and could lead to a recovery of around $50M for the FTB, including penalties and interest, which account for over 80% of the total.

The real issue, however, is the FTB’s misconduct in pursuing Mr. Hyatt in Nevada. According to Bill Leonard, a member of the California State Board of Equalization, as published in his newsletter:


Tax agents rummaged through his trash without warrants, visited business partners and doctors, and shared his Social Security Number and other personal information with the media. This is outrageous behavior and I call on the FTB to rein in their agents. What really galled me is the FTB testified in open court that this level of harassment was only a typical audit. If true, then the stormtroopers are alive and well at the FTB.


Mr. Hyatt sued the FTB for torts and other misconduct. The FTB claimed it was immune from being sued under the doctrine of comity- defined by the Nevada Supreme Court as “an accommodation policy, under which the courts of one state voluntarily give effect to the laws and judicial decisions of another state out of deference and respect, to promote harmonious interstate relations.”


The Nevada Supreme Court sided with Hyatt. The FTB appealed to the United States Supreme Court who ruled 9-0 against the agency.


There are two key questions that the taxpayers of California need answered: were any employees of the FTB disciplined? Will California continue to pour money in this case by appealing in what could be called a hostile environment?

Rummaging through trash without warrants and harrassment is precisely the sort of conduct that occurred when Federal agencies ran roughshod over the Constitution in the COINTELPRO campaigns of domestic spying and subversion.

What exactly is the difference between the jackboot behavior of the California Franchise Tax Board, the Federal agencies that conducted COINTELPRO and any other run-of-the-mill fascist agency doing the dirty work of the Elites and special interests by ignoring legal rights and due process?

It's very simple: either we have due process and everyone is equal under the law, or we have an authoritarian regime that is only nominally democratic for PR purposes.

Naive citizens might suggest alerting our fearless elected representatives to these systemic abuses by the state. This overlooks the fact that the agencies are conducting the looting at the behest of the elected toadies and their owners, the special interests and corporate lobbyists. Your complaint about being legally looted will go straight into the round file (or digital equivalent), and your name forwarded to the "hit squad" for harrassment and worse.

You know the dominant emotion that the government at every level generates in law-abiding, taxpaying citizens? Fear. People don't want their names used in reporting these kinds of outrageous abuses because they've heard too many stories of the COINTELPRO-like harrassment that the jackboot agencies unleash on anyone who dares to question their looting and lawlessness.

Our fearless elected representatives, meanwhile, are too busy brown-nosing their donors to care what happens to mere citizens. After all, the citizens don't fund their campaigns, the special interests do, and the special interests care about one thing: raising more revenue to fund their fiefdoms. They don't care how the state raises the revenue, and so neither do the political lackeys they fund.

What sort of government do we have when the typical response of law-abiding citizens is fear of retribution? When state looting and concerted campaigns of harrassment are "legal," then what sort of rule of law do we have?

Answer: none. The only action that will change things is to vote with your feet and leave the oppressive states where due process has been rendered meaningless and find states where rule of law and equality for all before the law still has meaning.

Are "fishing expeditions" and looting unique to California? Unfortunately not, as author/Iraq vet and midwest resident Chris Sullins reported two years ago:

Last week I received tax return forms in my name mailed to my address by a nearby city government. I've never worked in that city and as the letter states my physical address is not within that city's limits. I've lived at the address for over 10 years and this was the first time I've received such a notice.


I sent this letter in response with copies of the forms they had mailed to my address:




To Whom It May Concern:


My spouse and I recently received City of X individual tax return documents which stated a “return must be filed by April 30, 2010.” This letter you are now reading serves your agency notice that we are not required to file a tax return with the City of X. I will make it clear that we do not work in the City of X. Likewise, the mailing address your agency used to contact us is not and never has been within the city limits. Therefore, you will cease and desist from attempting to collect money outside of your legal authority.


Any future attempts by your agency toward collection of taxes on person(s) employed outside the city or at this address which is outside the physical boundary of the City of X will be considered harassment. Therefore, it would be in your agency’s best interests to remove our names and our address from your tax collection rolls posthaste.


Sincerely, Chris Sullins


I'm sure this overreach was done by the city due to their lower revenues, lost income and property taxes. But, to do this under the color of law is nothing short of official fraud. However, proving official misconduct is another matter. There was no official's name on the forms and I can't imagine I'm going to find a signed memo authorizing this new attempt at collection outside of the city's limits.


In the meantime I wonder how many people who reside on the same road also received the same tax forms? How many of them are just going to fill out the forms and send checks to the city without any protest? How many of them will ignore it altogether? But the important question is out of how many households did anyone bother to write a letter of protest? How many actually told them NO? This last question is the most important when considering the extent of the local MacRib Test.


If enough people don't say No early enough, things often tend to go past the camel's nose in the tent. I can imagine the local city continuing to extend its boundaries in the future and/or performing other actions under an air of legality. I can imagine situations in which cities overreach their boundaries and authority, yet still convince judges or a state administrator (aka bureaucrat) to garnish citizens' paychecks for supposedly unpaid taxes and fines which were never owed in the first place.


This outright theft would continue until the citizen trudges through an onerous Kafkaesque process of "proving" they didn't reside within the city and that the tax wasn't ever really owed. The city/judge/administrator could then play the "oops" game and blame a computer error or some other complexity of the system which they had purposely misused. Of course, the costs for the citizen to challenge such an "error" will be designed in advance to exceed the cost of submitting to the "error" in the first place.


Citizens must box in any attempts by government to exceed its authority. They must frame and contain any acts conducted under the color of law. This does not require violence. The simple act of refusing to comply is enough. This was evident in the many peaceful revolutions that took place in 1989 when people said NO to communism across Eastern Europe. Although governments hold the threat of force in reserve to force compliance, the American government will not use it against the citizens over taxation at this time.

You know what would be refreshing? A state government which openly declared itself committed to rule of law, due process, transparency and respect for taxpayers and taxpaying enterprises. If they followed through on their commitment with action, they would quickly attract a flood of the best and brightest fleeing parastic predatory states that have long since abandoned rule of law for looting and servitude to special interests.

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WTF_247's picture

I am sure if we could subpoena internal documents that a lot of these agencies are using the same tactics of scammers.  Send out 10,000 bogus bills for services never performed to businesses, you will get a certain percent paid with no contesting the bill amount.

The states send out 10,000 letters saying you owe taxes, a certain percent will get paid regardless of whether the person owes or not - simply because people either do not want the hassle or legitimately think they forgot to pay so they write the check.  

This is no different than companies engaging in illegal/shady behavior A because the revenue from A outweighs the fines and lawsuits associated with A.  In the end its a sound decision to do A because it netted you profits you would not otherwise have.


Since no one is ever held to account for doing this it will continue forever.  It is also very difficult to prove pattern of behavior because one cannot get access to the documents proving this was a coordinated effort to defraud.  This is both for businesses and governments.

kevinearick's picture

Natural & Constitutional Law

Universe bounty is a given, making supply-side economics, pulling demand forward to horde the future with exponential replication on the assumption of tax base control, a crime against nature, which the resulting majority will choose every time, to float currency downhill.

The primary false assumption rests upon the nature of dissolving the connection between peoples to secure the blessings of liberty for future generations, and government as the means to provide what they cannot provide for themselves. We, The People doing the delegating does not describe the majority. It represents individual sovereignty, aggregated, and is measured implicitly, as preemption is expanded. The only question is timing, when you want the system to blow up, which is a function of easily measured agency intent. What is G as a percentage of economic activity?

Agency always argues scarcity after the fiat, which is when the propaganda begins, as if the supply and demand curves are somehow magically unrelated, and only through its expertise may the problem be solved, because the so stupefied population is simply too ignorant to govern their own behavior. Direction of acceleration at the margin is what you care about. Speed is a derivative. First you see it; then you don’t.

What is the speed of gravity at the time of the bang? Time buys money, not the other way around. Set yourself up to be patient and the empire’s impulse drive becomes inconsequential to your investment strategy. What you care about is the margin. They need a dynamic battery, but if they employ a dynamic system they lose control of energy distribution, which serves to moor the empire status quo, ensuring legacy supremacy through preemption.

The key to fusion is installing delay devices quicker than the speed of current across the associated separation of charge, hence the speed of light, which simply reflects the measuring device. If you think about it, that will solve your battery problem, but it will not solve the tendency of the majority to short it out. Talking is one thing; doing is another. At no time is the universe not aware of your progress, but you may fool yourself at will. The result is fission.

The price of energy enforces consumption patterns, leaving credit expansion ahead of income for disposable income as the root of preemption. Take a look at oil, the Apple channel, and monetary expansion. The scarcity model is playing chicken with itself. As a parent, government may not preempt your sovereignty unless you accept its value system, but you cannot choose your children. Ferry intelligent children to wherever they want to go, to balance the forces and provide for your own.

The universe is a bomb of bombs. Surf the wave accordingly, by compiling the neutral. On the order of the universe, humanity is significant, but not yet substantial. Just leave everything a little better than you found it.

Lmo Mutton's picture

Rule of Law has left the building.

This is Anarchy.  No law.  Anarchy as in when a citizen does not guard his property at all times it will be stolen or destroyed by those that do not heed any laws.

Zombiefest 5.  It is open season man.'s picture

Anarchy means "no rulers." If there were no rulers with absolute power to commit these crimes then the problem would not exist. Anarchy is the solution not the problem.

snblitz's picture

There was a time when banks stood up to the IRS.

Long ago my banker called me with a seizure order from the IRS.  He said it did not look valid to him so they were going to ignore it.

Fast forward 10 years and BofA could not role over fast enough.  I didn't know the money had been seized by the IRS until the checks starting bouncing.  After talking with Joan (IRS rep) we proved her basis for the seizure was baseless. I got the money back.  A month later more bounced checks and the money was gone again.  We again proved the IRS was in the wrong.  Another month later the money was seized again.  Except this time we had been referred to 'problem tax payer resolution' in San Diego because of our uncooperative attitude.  Again I got back the money, closed the bank account, and shut down the business.

About a year later "Joan" was featured on the front page of the business section of the local newspaper as relatively insane woman who have been reeking havoc with companies all over the local area.

goldfish1's picture

Case in point:

Small rural village in NW Ohio. Jackboot Police Chief. Gradually infiltrates the entire Village Administration including Finances. Gets a few hapless "entitled" council people in his pocket. Runs off the competent and capable Village Administrator. Gets a puppet promoted in his place. Starts having the Village pay for the Police Department expenses out of different funds to hide the real cost of the wages and the department expenses. Runs off the fiscal officer. Runs the dept whereby no one wants to drive near the very rural Village as many tickets are written every day. Inflates the infraction amount. Speed trap. Signs are ambiguous. Impounds vehicles and charges outrageous amounts to get them out of impound. Self promotes how he is saving the village from "drug dealers". Local businesses verge on bankruptcy. Then he and council stooges get an income tax implemented.

Concerned citizens get a referendum. Concerned citizens get elected. New council starts the work of getting rid of the gestapo. Income tax overturned. Very little funding to run the village properly. Months and months later, some progress has been made. Very difficult to undo what should never have happened in the first place if the system of checks and balances are followed.

Stuck on Zero's picture

You'll be happy to know that 1.5 million California state employees carry special plates that make them immune to red light cameras, speeding tickets, parking tickets, and just about any motor vehicle violation.  That makes up for it all.


flacorps's picture

I frequent online bulletin boards like and and For the last couple of years new posters (members) have been appearing there with ten, fifteen and twenty year old matters they thought long resolved that cities, counties and states are suddenly billing them for. Probation long ago finished and fines paid? Whoops, you owed $42 we forgot to collect back then. Utilities turned off when you moved away from your college town and deposit returned to you. Whoops, you still owed $122 and we want it now. Just pray that's all they want and they're not trying to tack on interest and fees, or submitting your drivers' license to be suspended under the interstate compact.

There is no statute of limitations on governmental obligations, and there is no accountability for those who go back through old records and arbitrarily attempt to exact new monies when they are not really owed. The citizen never has records that old, and the city hall can't produce any either ... but their computer entry is enough for them and you know what people say about fighting city hall.

This is how rapacious governments on the verge of going broke raid their couch cushions.

Kali's picture

Beware when you "cash out" your retirement funds or 401k $$ from unethical employers too.  Waaay back in the 80's, I left an employer for a new job.  They cut me a check for the amount I had due to me, less approx $1500 to pay the taxes on it.  10 years later IRS comes after me for not paying the tax.  Being the pack rat I am when it comes to financial records, I still had the check stub.  Good thing too, the employer took my money and never forwarded it to the IRS, if I didn't have the stub, I would have had to pay thousands more in interest and fees to IRS.

Cake Please's picture

Your bank accounts are not safe, and neither are your wages.  If you owe California money, and they can’t steal it from your bank account, they will garnishee your wages.  And, it doesn’t have to be a tax matter.  My son bought a travel trailer and failed to pay his DMV fees.  He relocated shortly after the purchase of the trailer and his DMV renewal notices were not forwarded to him.  The trailer is parked on remote piece of property that I own and the family goes there to enjoy nature and just hang out.  Maybe the fact that the trailer has never been on the road was the reason he forgot about the DMV fees, but, regardless, he racked up a couple of years of DMV renewal fees and penalties and the State promptly got around to the business of collections.  The DMV notified the Franchise Tax Board about the unpaid fees.  The FTB located my son through his employer (a large telco) and advised his employer that they needed to garnishee his wages so he could make good his on his DMV obligations.  My son’s first notice of his offenses was a memo from payroll advising him of the action being taken.  This memo was delivered through his boss, who had previously held my son in high esteem, but now had to reconsider his trustworthiness since he obviously did not pay his debts.  Long story short, the DMV debt is paid, wages have been preserved, and work reputation is on the mend.  However, that doesn’t make this a happy story.  IT’S A TRAGIC STORY OF GOVERNMENT RUN AMUCK!  THE BASTARDS COULD LOCATE HIM TO STEAL HIS WAGES, AND RUIN HIS WORK REPUTATION, BUT THEY COULDN’T FIND HIM TO TELL HIM HIS DMV FEES WERE OVERDUE!

ddtuttle's picture

I beleive when you file your registration, you simply say the vehicle has not been nor wil it be on the road, and pay nothing.  Although there may some penalties for not filing such, there might not be any actual registration due.  Good luck trying to prove that.

Cake Please's picture

Tried that when making the debt right with the DMV.  It's called "planned non-operation".  They wouldn't let me do it.  They said I'd have to supply evidence that the vehicle had been demolished, which has not occurred.  It's just parked.  I'm still looking for an out here.  Unfortunately, for reasons I don't fully understand, I go into a demented state when dealing with the DMV.

ConfederateH's picture

"Answer: none. The only action that will change things is to vote with your feet and leave the oppressive states where due process has been rendered meaningless and find states where rule of law and equality for all before the law still has meaning."

Thats why I expatriated in 2010.  Any expat can tell you that this same harassment and theft is exactly what the IRS has been conducting against expats for decades.  But it keeps getting worse, like a house on a hill in Malibu where each year the erosion gets closer and each year the house slumps more.

Blizzard_Esq's picture

There is some due process here. But after the money is taken. 

According to the Federal tax court people can only contest their tax liability after they pay it. Against the Feds you simply don't have standing in tax court until you've overpaid. 

Against the State, at least in California you are "compelled" to pay. If you want to fight the taking you file a Writ of Mandamus for its return as well as a claim for damages under California Government code claim (900 et seq.). 


Cole Younger's picture

"rule of law" is only invoked at the convenience of the political and financial Elites for propaganda purposes"...... LOL


It has been that way for decades....Are you are now just getting it?

lincolnsteffens's picture

The State of California Fish and Game raided an auctioneer that had a 40 year business history in the State.He was always careful to check with authorities on selling endangered species list items. He had heard a rumor that California had banned the sale of Ivory by anyone. He checked with authorities a week before the sale when items of antique carved ivory were scheduled to be sold. The authorities were "unable" to give him any information then nor a half hour later when he got a call back from the desk officer who was "unable to find" out anything. Later that day the auction gallery was raided by 20 uniformed officers fully armed with guns drawn and seized all items. The employees were terrified and shaking long after the police left.

The police chief claimed he was in his office when the auctioneer said he called and seated next to the desk officer. The Chief claimed that no call had come in and he was not asked by anyone about the law. The auctioneer however showed the Police Chief his cell phone which indicated the Police phone number and that the call lasted 5 minutes. None the less the police walked off with everything which now will in all likelihood not be returned to the consignors. The auctioneer thought the State was so desperate for revenue for which there is a $1000 fine per item and a possible jail sentence they are cracking down on all laws possible. People caught in the trap pay the fine rather than risk losing in court and having to serve time.

It is perfectly understandable that anything made since the US banned ivory imports would be restricted. Items made over a hundred years or more ago should be exempt. The illegal ivory trade still goes on today as the demand in Asia is strong.

Here is an example of a guy going out of his way to make sure everything he does is legitimate and he gets raided. There is not a ban on selling antique endangered species parts in the US supposedly only a permit is needed. All the major auction houses sell pre 1900s ivory articles. This means in Cal. you can't sell a piano with ivory keys. You can only give it away.

Head_Shots_Work's picture

Oh damn - I visited kaliffuked once when I was just a young Boy Scout - back in 1973. Do you think they'll send me a tax bill for breathing the air? I might have accidentally brought back some dirt on my boots back also. Do you think they'll try to tax me for that? Isn't that earthquake, like, tomorrow? 322 - 188 days after the last big one? We're all waiting for the black swan to land now.

Head_Shots_Work's picture

Oh damn - I visited kaliffuked once when I was just a young Boy Scout - back in 1973. Do you think they'll send me a tax bill for breathing the air? I might have accidentally brought back some dirt on my boots back also. Do you think they'll try to tax me for that? Isn't that earthquake, like, tomorrow? 322 - 188 days after the last big one? We're all waiting for the black swan to land now.

VelvetHog's picture

I went to college in Kalifornia.  After college I moved to another state.  4 years later I got a job offer I couldn't refuse so I returned to Kalifornia (something I SWORE I would never do).  Soon after returning I went to the DMV like a good little serf to register my truck.  The prostitute behind the counter informed me that I owed $3800 to register my 2wd, 4cyl, bar bones Toyota.  I asked her if this was a mistake.  I was assured it was not a mistake.  When I asked why it was so much she said "I can't tell you that.".  Then I said "In that case I will NEVER pay you.", "I need to talk to your supervisor."  The super comes out and repeats that they aren't allowed to tell me why the charges are what they are.  Finally, for no apparent reason., he says "The charges are so high because you let your registration lapse for 4 years."  I said "But, I have been living in another state for the past 4 years, why the Hell would I register my truck in Kalifornia when wasn't living here?"  He says  "Ok, you will have to go in that booth over there and write a detailed paragraph explaining that you didn't reside in this state during the time in question.  Be very detailed and give work history and addresses and stuff like that."  So off the the little booth I go.  I worked on the paper for about 10 minutes and then came to my senses.  I got up, crumpled the paper I was writing on up and suffed it my pocket.  An hour and a half later I was full packed and was safely out of Kalifornia in to Nevada on the way home to Colorado.  This was 1997.  I haven't stepped foot in that god forsaken state since.  The story above is just the tip of the iceberg.  Trust me.  Someday I will tell you how I had an arrrest warrant in KA for failure to appear in court for a ticket I never received.


PS Did you know that if you are physically inside of CA for more than two weeks you are required to register your vehicle there? 


You are more free on mainland China than you are in California.

justsayin2u's picture

Cali is in the same class as the PIIGS except the food is not as good (except for Spain).

Trying to Understand's picture

In reading all the comments I can only sit and wonder what we, collectively, will think and say when the feds decide to start enforcing all the "new laws" they've put on the books over the last three or four decades that, thusfar, have not been enforces.  Our "local 911 Chief" will become a demigod, with more power than the Govenor....

scam_MERS's picture

And now, my true FTB story: Purchased a house here in 2002, sold in 2006 and made about $240K profit. Since profit on the sale was non-taxable ($250,000 exemption here), and didn't have to be reported, and I had very little other income that year (well below the filing threshold) I didn't file a CA 540 return. The law states you do not have to file a return if there is no taxable income, so I didn't bother. Fast forward to 2009, I had moved out of the state, and I started getting letters from lawyers to negotiate a settlement for my $26,000 tax bill owed to the state of CA. I thought, WTF? I don't owe CA a cent, how is this possible? I was able to come back to the county I had resided in and I went to the records section at the county offices, and I found the filing for taxes owned (lien statement), which I had never received in the mail. Not one notice, not anything ever from the state, until some time later, I got a notice from the FTB forwarded to me long after it had gone to collection status. The notice made no mention what the liability was from, either. I had to call them to find out.

Long story short, they based the tax bill on what they just pulled out of their ass, as if I had gotten the house for zero dollars, and claimed I owed taxes on the full sale price ($480K). It took many phone calls, letters and lots of sleepless nights to get this monkey (the FTB) off my back. I told them, and they actually agreed, that this should have not happened. And I am quite sure they would have taken the money from my bank account (shoot first, ask questions later) except they had made an error in my SS# and couldn't identify a bank account tied to that SS#! Later, I realized that they had taken this erroneous number from my filing for Homeowner's Exemption, when I looked back at it, a number I had written as a "1" was mistaken as a "7" due to the way I write the number 1 on paper. It was just my good fortune that this happened, because my bank account would have surely been cleaned out. As it was, they couldn't find me due to this error, so they just filed the lien and waited. This was the first and last time I gave my SS# in a real estate transaction, and that is why I knew where to look.

One lesson learned, don't file for Homeowner's Exemption in this state, because they require your SS# on the form (you and your wife's, if you're married) and they will use this info to dun you if they can. It's not worth it to me to save a measly $70 a year off my property taxes for the trouble it can cause. I bought a home back here in CA in 2010 (glutton for punishment, I guess) and I haven't filed for Homeowner's Exemption and I don't plan to, after what I've seen. They less info the state has on me, the better. I paid cash for the house I'm in now, and my SS# is not tied to the house in any way. The title co. tried to force me to disclose it, I just refused. They told me the sale wouldn't close if I didn't give them the number, but I prevailed and it not only closed, there was nothing said again about it when I signed the papers. Since then, if anyone asks for my SS#, I demand to know what it is needed for. If there isn't a legit reason, I will refuse to provide it. Did the same thing with all the utilities, I refused and offered to give them a deposit instead, which wiorked in all cases.

TacticalZen's picture

I've heard all kinds of horror stories about the California tax man.  Mainly how extreme they can be for wealthy people who have made another state their home, but they still retain a house or other real property in CA.  That gets the tax people all hot and bothered - to see if they can somehow prove the people should be considered as permanent residents and collect their 10% income tax.  They talk with the neighbors, go through the trash, all sorts of "KGB" type behavior.  Until and unless a person cuts off all ties with the state they will continue to try to collect revenue.

The best thing to do is to vote with your feet, your checkbook, and what remains of your personal honor.  Just leave.  I did in 1979 and haven't had a single regret.  Moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.  We're like Texas without any water.  We don't have a last call or an "assault weapons" ban.  We have no state income tax, a mandatory "shall issue" CCW law, and generally leave people alone.  We do have former Californians trying to screw up Nevada but so far they have not succeeded.


scam_MERS's picture

Tac, I actually did move to NV during the time I was talking about. Only problem was, I couldn't tolerate the weather there. I was sneezing constantly from dust, I'd wake up in the morning and cough up blood because my mouth was so dry, and I had persistent itching that I just couldn't seem to stop no matter how much body lotion I used. I really wanted to make a go of it, I bought a brand new house there in a great area of NW L.V. and loved the house, and the area. But after some tme, I came to realize I would never be able to adjust to the dryness and lack of humidity. That's why I came back to CA, not because I really wanted to. I wish I knew of some other place I could live that has a CA climate without all the other negatives. But I agree with you, the only long term solution is to leave CA.

laosuwan's picture

i have received two emails from old college friends in california in the past week inquiring about job prospects in southeast asia and how to start a new life here. one a lawyer and the other a biochemist.

Cheekbones's picture

This nightmare happened to me as well.  My parents who still live in Calif (I live in London) received bills for $6k, $7k and $9 addressed to me.  By the time I got them I had four weeks to clear it up before a lein would be placed on my still existing Wells Fargo Bank account. They said that - get this - because I had a CPA license in the state, they assumed I was working in the state, and then estimated what my income was and then charged me tax accordingly.  Talk about a stretch!

The worst part is that you can't actually get through to the Franchise tax board.  It took me two weeks of calling (on my holiday) to get an answering machine that took a message and promised to have someone call me back.  I was bounced back and forth between offices (they had different names, guessed at my previous addresses) over the next two month and four months later it was finally cleared up.  I finally spoke to someone bright - there's only two working there!

Lessons - keep filing state returns; and swear off wells fargo