New ideas for Washington’s tax system

For most people, tax season officially ends in April. But for state policymakers, it’s always open season on taxes.

With I-960 in the courts and Washington State in a recession, balancing the state budget next year may prove to be a greater challenge than ever. How will we fund vital state services in a fair manner to educate children, provide health services to seniors, train workers, and keep the transportation system rolling?

Two new publications by the Economic Opportunity Institute highlight possible answers to that question:

  • Fairer Taxes for Washington: Taxing high incomes to reduce regressive taxes and improve public services (link) outlines options for a limited tax on the highest income households, coupled with a reduction in sales or property tax, to create a fairer tax system that keeps pace with economic growth.
  • Everybody Else Gets One: An Analysis of Tax Breaks in Washington State (link) reviews the 567 tax exemptions on the books as of 2007 and suggests that some of the lost revenue could be better spent on improving education, health, the environment, transportation, or other public services.

There is a silver lining in the economic storm clouds overhead. Projected budget deficits provide an opportunity to restore fairness and accountability to our tax system, while fully funding vital public investments that will promote shared prosperity and position Washington for strong growth in the years ahead.

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