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California to collect 1% fee on lumber and wood products

SACRAMENTO -- Putting that addition on your house is about to get more expensive.

On Jan. 1, the state will require buyers of lumber and “engineered” wood products to pay a 1% assessment on the price of such building materials.

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Retailers and contractors will be required to collect the fee from customers and pass the money, estimated to raise $35 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, to the state Board of Equalization.

The assessment, passed into law as part of the current state budget act, is to fund programs in various state agencies charged with regulating timber harvests and preventing and fighting forest fires.

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The Board of Equalization is sending out letters detailing the new fee and how it is to be collected to about 200,000 retailers, contractors and consumers.

Chairman Jerome Horton said he “hopes to prevent confusion” and make sure that potentially affected parties know about the new obligation.

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Under the new rules, customer receipts must clearly state that the 1% assessment is being collected and that it is not subject to state or local sales or use taxes.

Each retailer is entitled to a state reimbursement of up to $250 per location for start-up costs linked to collection of the new fee.

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Legislation authorizing the fee also contained a controversial provision that put legal limits on the ability of government agencies to sue land owners, timber operators and others whose negligence might have caused forest fires.

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