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Board Member Biographies

Taxpayers in California have a voice in the makeup of the Franchise Tax Board, electing two of its three members. The FTB is chaired by the State Controller, John Chiang. Other board members include Jerome E. Horton, chairman of the Board of Equalization, and Michael Cohen, director of the Department of Finance.

John Chiang, State Controller and Chair, Franchise Tax Board

John Chiang

John Chiang was elected to statewide office as State Controller in 2006. As one of California’s twelve constitutional officers, John is the highest-ranking Asian-American officeholder in the continental United States.

Mr. Chiang brings extensive experience and fiscal leadership to the State Controller’s Office. He was first elected to the Board of Equalization in 1998. During his two terms, Mr. Chiang represented the Board of Equalization on the Franchise Tax Board and led with innovative and ground breaking taxpayer-friendly services like the State’s free income tax return program, ReadyReturn.

Mr. Chiang has sponsored innovative tax seminars to guide small businesses, non-profit organizations and religious institutions in understanding the state and federal tax codes. These programs provided access to information and services for those without the time, expertise, or resources to study the laws, rules, and regulations applicable to their circumstances.

Mr. Chiang has also boosted small businesses by sponsoring events featuring experts from various government agencies to explain in clear and concise language compliance issues, the latest tax laws, policies, rules, and regulations. These seminars provide entrepreneurs with the tools to strengthen their businesses and prosper.

Mr. Chiang graduated with honors from the University of South Florida with a degree in finance, and received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. He began his career as a Tax Law Specialist with the Internal Revenue Service and served as an attorney with the State Controller’s Office.

For more information about the State Controller’s Office, please visit their website.

Jerome E. Horton, Chairman, Board of Equalization

Jerome E. Horton

Currently serves as the Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization. In July 2009, he was appointed to the Board of Equalization by the Governor and confirmed with overwhelming support by both the California State Senate and Assembly.

Mr. Horton brings to the Board twenty-one years of prior Board of Equalization experience as business tax law specialist and a keen understanding of public policy as a former member of the California State Assembly and Inglewood City Council.

Mr. Horton’s appointment to the Board is historic in that he is the first member to join the Board with twenty-one years of prior Board of Equalization experience, the first African American to serve on the Board in its history and the third African American California Constitutional Officer.

For more information about the State Board of Equalization, please visit their website.

Michael Cohen, Director of Finance

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen was appointed as Director of the California Department of Finance by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2013. He serves as the Governor’s chief fiscal policy advisor.

Prior to becoming Director, he served as Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Finance from 2011 to 2013. In this capacity, Mr. Cohen was the department’s lead contact with the state Legislature on the state budget.

From 1997 to 2010, Mr. Cohen worked at the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). While there, he served as a local government finance analyst, Director of State Administration, and Deputy Legislative Analyst.

Mr. Cohen earned a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas and a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University. He lives in Sacramento with his wife Amy Supinger and his two dogs, Lulu and Dexter.

For more information about the Department of Finance, please visit their website.