Dori: Radical Legislature couldn’t wait to file illegal income tax brief
Hold on to your bank accounts — we have a radical new city council in Seattle and an even more radical Legislature in Olympia, and even though we are sending them more money than we ever have before (per capita, adjusted for inflation), it is not enough.
Several lawmakers in the Legislature filed a brief with the Washington State Supreme Court this week asking for the ability to implement an income tax in the state. They filed it on the first day of the session — that is how much they could not wait to implement the tax that has for so long been the Holy Grail for Democrats in our state.
Now, it is the job of the Supreme Court to uphold the Washington State Constitution, and a graduated tax on income is against the Constitution. Article VII, Section 2 clearly states the following:
All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax and shall be levied and collected for public purposes only. The word ‘property’ as used herein shall mean and include everything, whether tangible or intangible, subject to ownership.
Will the income tax get tossed, or do we have a radical, activist Supreme Court that cares more about politics than about the Constitution that it has sworn to uphold?
“This has been an ongoing effort since the 1930s, when the Supreme Court made the very rational ruling that you own your income,” said Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. “And if you own your income, under Washington’s Constitution, it’s property. And that means it is subject to the property tax restriction.”
A change to the Constitution would require not only a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, but also a vote of the people. Since the 1930s, Washington voters have overwhelmingly said no to a graduated income tax 10 times.
“The situation has been where the voters are ‘not cooperating’ — they make it very clear that they don’t want an income tax,” he said. “The advocates trying to impose an income tax in Washington are trying to interim the voters, go to the courts, and get the judges to do what the voters won’t.”
There are so many bizarre, contradictory aspects of this issue. We have record tax revenues to Olympia right now. We also have Jay Inslee, on his failed presidential run, saying that Washington has the best economy in the nation. There are certainly ways you could make that case, but the only reason that we might have the best economy is because we do not have a state income tax. Industries with high-paying jobs can much better attract workers if there is no income tax. The lack of income tax is also an attractant for businesses. Mercier pointed out that the Washington State Department of Commerce even advertises the fact that we don’t have an income tax to get businesses to come and invest here. It’s in no small part a reason why our economy is doing so well in Washington. And now Democrats in Olympia want to destroy that.
“We have seen record revenue growth, consistent growth, stable growth,” Mercier said. “And the reason for that is the sales tax, the property tax, and the gross receipts tax — our three-legged stool — are less volatile than an income tax.”
Look at what is happening in California. Millionaires are fleeing because they have to pay a 13-percent state income tax, while illegal immigrants are pouring in and taking government services. Think about that — if you make $1 million per year, you have to give probably $400,000 to the U.S. government, and another $130,000 to the state of California. The same thing is happening in New York. A state income tax is a horrible thing for a state economy.
This is a story you must keep on top of. Together, we must fight this.
In Seattle, Councilmember Kshama Sawant wants a head tax even more massive than the one overturned two years ago. The state wants to impose a mileage tax, which would effectively turn every road in the state into a toll road. Governor Jay Inslee wants a gas tax increase under the guise of a “low carbon fuel standard.” If it’s anything like California’s gas tax, it will add 9 cents per gallon. And now the radical Democrats in our Legislature are rushing to move toward an income tax.
So far, the year 2020 is going really well around here.
Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.