Why Washington State Doesn’t Have an Income Tax: The 1930s Campaign for Tax Reform and the Origins of Washington’s Tax System

If you want to know why Washington is one of just 7 states without an income tax — or if you’re just a local history buff — this longish but very informative report by University of Washington student Nathan Riding sheds light on the history of the movement for a more equitable tax structure in Washington State.

From the introduction:

Washington State is one of the few states in the country to never implement an income tax, giving it the dubious distinction of being the state with the most regressive and inequitable tax system in the country. Yet an income tax was passed by popular vote in the midst of the Great Depression, as a movement spearheaded by the farmers of the Washington State Grange sought to lessen their tax burden and promote a more equitably gained source of revenue to support the growth of Washington’s infrastructure and state services.

The current crisis has moved many policy makers to reconsider the viability of instituting a state income tax in order to solve the issues of inequity and the inability of government to generate revenues that can keep pace with the rising cost of government services. Examination of the history of the state income tax during the last great economic crisis may provide insight into solving our current state revenue challenges.

Read more: Why Washington State Doesn’t Have an Income Tax: The 1930s Campaign for Tax Reform and the Origins of Washington’s Tax System

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