Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Olympia's insatiable appetite for more taxes needs to stop. Our thriving state economy has produced more than $2.8 billion in surplus revenue. Despite historic levels of state revenue, the House Finance Committee recently approved, by a 9-4 vote, three bills set to increase taxes by more than $4.5 billion.
House Bill 2156, House Bill 2157 and House Bill 2158 would create a capital gains income tax, increase certain business and occupation (B&O) taxes, change the graduated real estate excise tax (REET) and eliminate the nonresident sale tax exemption.
Washingtonians will be hurt by these taxes. The Washington State Department of Commerce credits Washington's tax structure, specifically the lack of a state income tax, as a contributor to our state's flourishing economy. Imposing a capital gains income tax at this point is unnecessary and indulgent. Worse, it goes against the will of voters statewide who have consistently and resoundingly said “no” to a state income tax.
The proposed B&O tax increases are focused primarily on the service industry. A few big shot high-tech companies, including Microsoft, told policy makers they are in favor of these taxes. Most small business owners stand in opposition. The hardest hit will be accountants, lawyers and real estate agents. The proposed elimination of the nonresident sales tax is also controversial. Many retailers depend on people coming across the river from Oregon to shop. These small business owners are already voicing their concerns about the nonresident sales tax elimination.
It's worth noting they waited until the final week of session to speak in detail about these tax-hike plans. Clearly fiscal restraint and responsible spending are not top priorities. And, lest we forget, there is still a push from some lawmakers for a gas tax in the form of a “low carbon fuel standard.” If approved, prices at the pump may go up 17-34 cents per gallon—straining businesses and family budgets.
Washingtonians deserve better. Increasing taxes at a time when our state is collecting historic levels of revenue—from existing resources—is wrong. We've got to knock these bad ideas down!
In order to become law, these bills need to be approved by both the House and Senate chambers. I'm opposed to all of these taxes. When the time comes, I'll be voting no.