Initiative to Repeal WA Capital-Gains Tax Failing to Gain Support
Monday, May 16, 2022
An initiative that would repeal Washington's capital-gains tax on the state's richest residents is struggling to gain traction.
Initiative No. 1929 would eliminate a 7% tax on stocks, bonds and other assets worth more than $250,000, which lawmakers approved in the 2021 session.
The tax is projected to bring in $415 million dollars for child care and education if it goes into effect in 2023.
Aaron Ostrom, executive director of the progressive organization Fuse Washington, said it would only be levied on a small number of people.
"These are people who own yachts and are looking to buy a second yacht," said Ostrom. "This is not just rich people, this is the ultra-wealthy who are looking to further rig a system that's already rigged in their favor at the expense of child care and early childhood education."
Supporters of I-1929 argue that the tax passed by the state Legislature last year is an income tax, which is unconstitutional in Washington state. A judge agreed in March and overturned the measure lawmakers passed last year.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson is appealing that decision to the Washington Supreme Court.
Organizers of I-1929 have until July 8 to collect about 325,000 signatures. Ostrom says they are far behind and have not even reached $1 million in donations for the campaign.
"The longer you wait, the more expensive it gets," said Ostrom. "So they would probably have to pay over $10 million to get on the ballot at this point, and they're not raising funds that are anywhere near that neighborhood and they're not showing any signs of actually starting to move into signature gathering."
Ostrom disagreed that the capital gains tax passed by lawmakers qualifies as an income tax.
"It's a tax on extraordinary capital gains for a tiny number of ultra-wealthy people," said Ostrom. "And Wall Street speculation is not the same thing as earning income."
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