Why Initiative 1098 is right for Washington: Bill Gates Sr., Gerald Grinstein and Michael DeBell weigh in

Pop quiz: What common cause unites a prominent philanthropist, a venture capitalist, and a local businessman with a passion for public education? Answer: Initiative 1098. These three — Bill Gates Sr., Gerald Grinstein, and Michael DeBell — have nailed the case for the measure in a new Puget Sound Business Journal column:

In the quest for success, Washington state’s small business owners and middle-class families deserve a level playing field. Instead, they are penalized by a tax code that is stacked against them.

The business and occupation (B&O) tax requires hundreds of thousands of small business owners, even if they don’t make a penny in profit, to pay tax on gross sales of their services and products. That makes no sense.

Middle-class families pay more than 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, and poor families pay 17 percent. Meanwhile the state’s wealthiest residents — like us — pay just 2.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes. That disparity is clearly unfair.

At the same time, we’re shortchanging the very areas that support our state’s long-term economic competitiveness and create the foundation for a strong middle class.

The authors go on to connect the dots between educational investment, businesses growth and economic opportunity; succinctly explain how I-1098 will accomplish that (with specifics on who will pay, who will save, and how much); and even find room to dispose of their opponents’ arguments along the way. The whole article is well worth a read. Here’s a teaser:

We believe that this proposal offers a clear choice to voters: assist small businesses, cut taxes for the middle class and support much needed investments in our schools and in health care — or keep the status quo, which penalizes small business and shortchanges our children and families.

Read more (Puget Sound Business Journal): Reforming tax code will create opportunity

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