The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Ray Klebba
White Salmon 

State tax system a disaster


The Washington State tax system is the worst in the country. It is the most regressive, which means the lower income families pay a bigger percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthier. Low- and middle-income households pay up to seven times more in state and local taxes as a share of their incomes than those at the top.

The top richest 1 percent of Washingtonians (greater than $500,000) pay 2.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes while the lowest 20 percent (less than $21,000) pay 17 percent of their income in taxes.

The Washington State legislature just passed the 2017-19 state operating budget. They came up with about $1.6 billion this cycle to pay for schools as required by the Washington Supreme Court to ensure fair pay for teachers across the state.

Too bad they did it by making the tax system worse. Beginning in 2018 the State’s share on our property tax bill will increase to pay for schools and local school levies will decrease. Households living in areas of the state with high property values will see a big spike in their property tax bills, even as their incomes don’t go up.

Our legislature is equally divided. Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate. Progressive revenue options proposed by Democrats, including a capital gains tax on the sale of high-value stocks and bonds and a progressive real estate excise tax were flatly refused by Republicans.

A good thing is that several tax loopholes were closed including on bottled water, big oil and the out-of-state internet sales tax. Gov. Inslee rightly vetoed a tax exemption for manufacturers. But in a state that has the most unfair tax system in the nation, these steps forward were simply not enough.


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