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Marchers Rally to Fix WA's 'Upside Down' Tax System

Groups across the country are rallying ahead of tax day to push for a fairer tax structure. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Groups across the country are rallying ahead of tax day to push for a fairer tax structure. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
April 13, 2018

SEATTLE – Washingtonians are rallying ahead of tax day to call for a fairer tax system in the state.

On Saturday, people will gather in Seattle to highlight the disparity between working families, who pay up to 17 percent of their income in state and local taxes, and high-income families, who pay less than 3 percent of their earnings.

Tim Welch, public affairs director with the Washington Federation of State Employees, says everyone uses public services such as roads and schools, and so it's only fair to make the tax structure more equal. He says the lack of support for public services was underscored recently by the McCleary decision, in which the state Supreme Court ruled Washington was unconstitutionally underfunding schools.

"We've seen it in mental health. We've seen it in preservation of natural resources,” says Welch. “We are teetering on the brink of infrastructure and service disaster, and so the point to that tax-day rally is to show that we've really got to all roll up our sleeves and fix that upside-down tax system."

The rally will feature speeches from Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, state Senator Rebecca Saldaña and Seattle city councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda. It begins at 2 p.m. in Judkins Park.

Welch says there are a number of ways to fix the tax system, including closing the dozens of tax loopholes for businesses. He says the state also could use a so-called "working families tax credit," which would mirror the federal earned income tax credit that gives tax breaks to low- and middle-income people.

"We want to do everything we can to encourage them to keep working, to keep contributing to the economy, and not get so far down that spiral that they have to resort to food stamps and other public assistance that put a drain on the services," says Welch.

Groups at the march also want to dispel the myth that Washingtonians are paying higher taxes. Welch says state revenue collections have decreased by 30 percent as a share of the economy over the past three decades. He says the current tax structure is outdated and isn't keeping up with the state's high-tech economy.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA