Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Seattle Weekly: Bull Semen, Private Jets, and Other Good Ways to Tax Washington’s 1 Percent

Excerpted from the Seattle Weekly:

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Both Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute, and Eric de Place, a senior researcher at the Sightline Institute, recommend closing as many of the 567 tax loopholes currently afforded by the state to various corporations and industries.

Watkins is particularly opposed to tax breaks for the farm industry. While farmers are hardly the stereotypical Wall Street fat cats, Watkins says the largest beneficiary is industrial agribusiness, not mom-and-pop homesteads.

“We almost completely exempt farms from taxation in our state,” Watkins says. “That made sense back in ’30s when it was family farmers slammed by the depression and in financial crisis, but there’s not a good reason in this day and age to exempt big agribusiness from taxation.”

According to de Place, several farm tax loopholes border on absurd. They include caveats for the propane used to heat vast chicken coops, and fine print that favors bull semen traders, he says.

“You name it there’s an exemption,” de Place says. “They live in this weird tax-free environment, Maybe that makes sense from public policy standpoint, I don’t know, but do we really need tax-free bull semen? Is that hugely important?”

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