Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, introduced a measure to impose a state income tax upon Washington’s highest wage earners yesterday.
“Our historic revenue shortfall is forcing us to slash programs that are lifelines for many of our residents. This underscores the importance of tax reform in our state,” Kohl-Welles said. “My bill isn’t the cure-all for fixing today’s budget crisis, rather it’s about providing one way to help in the future from crippling our schools and colleges when our economy slows.”
Washington is only one of seven states in the country that does not impose a state income tax. More than half of the state’s operating budget is funded through the sales tax, making the budget vulnerable when consumer spending slows.
“For too long the word ‘tax’ has been such a dirty word that no real conversation about our tax system has been had,” Kohl-Welles said. “It is time for us to govern, stop playing unsustainable political games, and do what’s best for our state.”
Senate bill 6147 would implement a 1 percent income tax on incomes of at least $500,000 annually for individuals, $1 million for spouses filing joint returns and $750,000 for single income households. The revenues collected from this tax must be deposited in the Education Enrichment Account, created under this measure, to be used in support of the state’s public schools, colleges and universities.
“This measure is about sustainability but also fairness. Currently, those in Washington who make less than $20,000 a year pay 20 percent of their income in taxes while, those making over $40,000 pay 6 percent,” Kohl-Welles said. “Our sales tax system is highly regressive. There is no rationale for people who have less having to pay more.”