STATE SPOTLIGHT: The State of Washington Should Listen to Taxpayers

By at 20 November, 2019, 11:38 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

As SBE Council has noted before, elected officials in the state of Washington tend to be a conflicted bunch. On some issues, they have been very sound – such as the lack of any kind of income taxes. In other areas, the policies are just horrible – like consumption-based taxes and various regulatory measures. (Washington ranks #10 on SBE Council’s Small Business Policy Index 2019.)

Well, they recently received some input from voters during the past Election in the form of 12 tax-related advisory ballot measures – whereby voters weighed in on issues.

So, let’s take a look at some of the key measures.

Two Tax-Related Initiatives

Initiative 976 would cap passenger vehicle licensing fees at $30; base vehicle tax calculations on Kelley Blue Book values rather than 85 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price: and repeal a $150 fee on electric vehicles.

It passed by 53 percent to 47 percent.

In the city of Spokane, Proposition 2 would not allow the city to impose an income tax. That was overwhelmingly supported with 73 percent of the vote.

Non-Binding Advisory Measures

Among non-binding measures, 63 percent of voters agreed that a 0.58 percent payroll tax due to go into effect in 2020 should not be retained.

The state of Washington imposes an ugly gross receipts tax (the B&O tax), and several advisory measures dealt with increases in this levy – Advisory Vote 21, 24, 25, 30 and 31. Four of those measures were overwhelmingly against retaining or imposing higher taxes – with opposition running from 55 percent to 65 percent – with one tax increase on international investment management services supported.

Be Smart: Listen to the Taxpayers

Overall, out of the 14 ballot measures, 11 were clear pro-taxpayer, anti-tax-increase votes. The results offered sound advice from the voters in Washington, which elected officials need to follow if the state wants to retain its business competitiveness and remain a state where individuals are encouraged to start and/or grow a business.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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