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California to provide tax credit for union dues

California’s proposed “Workers Tax Fairness Credit” would be the country’s first tax credit for union dues.

California, along with other states including Pennsylvania and New York, already allows union members to lower their taxable income by the amount of their union dues through a tax deduction. The new provision would instead provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction on their tax bill. The starting annual cost to the state is an estimated $400 million.

A June 13 Floor Report reasons, “union workers are more likely to not itemize their deductions and therefore do not get the same tax benefit for their dues that higher paid professions are more likely to get for their professional association dues.”

The provision has been widely praised by unions. The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council applauded efforts in a June press release, “The budget approved today by Governor Newsom and the Legislature establishes a refundable tax credit for union dues, allowing workers to level the playing field that tries to keep them at the bottom.”

Critics of the credit argue the move is another attempt by labor unions and their political allies to push back on the 2018 US Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME which led to a decline in union membership. It could make union membership more appealing to employees by shifting dues costs to taxpayers.

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.