Kim Kardashian, can't you pay more? Proponents of a proposed tax increase on millionaires in California are asking that question of the outsize personality, who has parlayed her reality TV celebrity status into fame and personal fortune.
An online video from the Courage Campaign targets the star of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "Kourtney and Kim Take New York" as part of its campaign for a proposed November ballot initiative to raise taxes on the wealthiest Californians.
The video ad flashes images of Kardashian enjoying the good life, proclaiming that "being on TV has changed my life, because you get lots of free stuff."
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It says Kardashian made $12 million in 2010 but paid just 1 percentage point more in California income taxes than someone making $47,000 — 10.3 percent vs. 9.3 percent. The video ad, which is posted at www.Taxkimk.com , urges Kardashian to support the proposal for a tax increase.
"Not everyone was born a Kardashian, but we all need to pay our fair share," it says.
A spokeswoman for Kardashian, Pearl Servat, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday from The Associated Press.
The Courage Campaign and the California Federation of Teachers are among the groups backing a so-called millionaire's tax that would raise income tax rates by 3 percent to 5 percent for individuals who make more than $1 million a year.
Proponents say the tax would raise about $6 billion to help fund public schools and local services that have been hit hard during the recession, such as social services, programs for the elderly and public safety.
If the groups are successful in getting their tax initiative on the November ballot, they would likely pursue a television ad on the same theme, Courage Campaign spokeswoman Ana Beatriz Cholo said.
Tax revenue to the state has dropped $17 billion since the recession began during the 2007-08 fiscal year, requiring billions of dollars a year in budget cuts.
The millionaires tax is one of several ballot proposals circulating in California seeking to increase income taxes on the wealthy as a way to help close the state's annual budget deficit. In 2010, about 41,000 Californians reported adjusted gross income above $1 million, paying about $13.1 billion in taxes to the state, according to the Franchise Tax Board.
A proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown also seeks to raise taxes temporarily, and he has been reaching out to wealthy donors who could help finance his initiative campaign. The Democratic governor said he has found that most wealthy people are not too excited about increasing their own taxes, with some exceptions.
"I talked to Rob Reiner; he was very excited about paying more taxes," the governor quipped last week. A spokesman for Reiner was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Through their reality TV shows and other promotions, Kim Kardashian, two of her sisters and their mother have created a celebrity brand name for themselves, appearing in endorsements for everything from weight-loss products to fast food. Forbes magazine estimated Kardashian made $12 million in 2010.
Kim Kardashian's father, Robert Kardashian, was an attorney and close friend of O.J. Simpson who played a prominent role in his murder trial.
After a lavish, made-for-TV wedding event last summer that reportedly netted the couple millions of dollars in royalties, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce in October, citing irreconcilable differences just 10 weeks after she wed NBA player Kris Humphries.
The couple's star-studded, black-tie ceremony was held at an exclusive canyon estate near Santa Barbara in the seaside enclave of Montecito. Kardashian wore three different designer wedding gowns, complemented by her 20.5 carat engagement ring. The couple's wedding registry at a Beverly Hills jeweler totaled $172,000 and included such items as a $1,650 coffee pot and two $1,250 sterling silver vegetable spoons.
The one-minute Courage Campaign ad flashes pictures of Kim Kardashian in fur and jewels, then compares her 10.3 percent income tax rate with that of a "middle-class Californian" who makes $47,000 a year and pays 9.3 percent.
"Don't you think she could pay a little more?" the ad asks as pictures of schoolchildren, firefighters and an elderly woman appear. "Especially to fund education and critical services?"