WA Could 'Lead Nation' on Tax System That Tackles Inequality
Friday, April 29, 2022
While the pandemic has fueled soaring profits for the country's richest, it has also exposed growing income and wealth inequality in the United States.
Progressive groups are optimistic Washington state could tackle the issue through its tax code. Legislation to impose a wealth tax did not pass in Olympia this year, but will likely be back in 2023.
Carolyn Brotherton, policy associate at the Economic Opportunity Institute, said the state has the most regressive tax system in the country.
"A state wealth tax is one way that we can start addressing this inequality and put resources back into the communities that need it the most," Brotherton contended. "Rather than letting this wealth just grow and grow and grow into the hands of the very few at the very top of the wealth distribution."
Opponents of the wealth tax say it is essentially a graduated income tax, which is unconstitutional in Washington state.
However, Brotherton does not believe it to be the case. The legislation presented this year would exempt everyone with less than a billion dollars in assets. Brotherton argued in essence, it would bring uniformity to the tax code.
"The ultrawealthy who grow their wealth by owning things like stocks and bonds will pay a 1% property tax on the privilege of owning that property, similar to how homeowners currently pay a 1% property tax on the privilege of owning real property in our state," Brotherton outlined.
The state Department of Revenue estimates the tax would affect fewer than 100 people in Washington state. A fiscal analysis found it would raise about $2.5 billion a year.
There have been other recent attempts to change taxes in Washington. In 2021, lawmakers passed a 7% capital gains tax on the sale of stocks, bonds or other assets worth more than $250,000. It's been challenged in court and signatures are being collected for a measure to repeal the tax in November if voters approve.
Brotherton emphasized it's repeal would hurt communities, noting Washington's unfair tax code means more than numbers on paper.
"What it means is that we have austerity baked into our system so that we're not fully funding the things that we know our communities need," Brotherton asserted. "Such as K-12 education, such as climate resilience, such as housing, such as public health, and so on and so forth."
get more stories like this via email
Programs intended to reduce the chances that someone will end up back behind bars are working, according to a new analysis of California state data…
Arizona is gearing up for its presidential preference election that takes place in less than a month, and registered Democrats and Republicans were …
You might say "every day is 'bring your child to college day'" at New Hampshire's Manchester Community College. On-campus childcare programs are …
By Elizabeth Ouzts for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Shanteya Hudson for North Carolina News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism…
The number of Black mothers in Ohio who die during or following pregnancy continues to climb and health advocates said they hope to shine a light on t…
It's been an uphill battle for childhood nutrition advocates to advance meal access policies in the South Dakota Legislature. However, organizers say …
A cooperative effort has seeded more than 26,000 acres in eastern Nevada. It's all in an effort to increase desirable grasses, forbs and shrubs while …
Texas postal customers, especially in rural areas, are experiencing delays in mail delivery, and some letter carriers feel it could get worse…