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Washington state lawmakers push to suspend Boeing tax breaks

Senator Marko Liias and Representative Pat Sullivan will introduce bills Wednesday that would suspend Boeing’s state tax breaks.

The legislation would also help to address an ongoing dispute between the aerospace giant and the World Trade Organization.

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“There is broad agreement in Olympia that we need to act this session to address the WTO issue in order to avoid retaliatory tariffs that would damage not just our commercial aircraft industry, but other important Washington exports,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news release Wednesday.

Tax breaks have saved Boeing millions of dollars per year, approximately $230 million in 2018, as reported by The Seattle Times. The business and occupation (B&O) tax rate, the rate involved in Wednesday’s bills, accounts for a 40 percent reduction.

“We share Boeing’s concern that retaliatory tariffs will hurt not only our state’s aircraft industry, but other Washington-based exporters and family-wage jobs here in Washington,” Liias said in a statement. “Our goal is to craft sound legislation to appropriately mitigate this international trade dispute.”

The proposed legislation comes at Boeing’s request.

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“We cannot allow regulatory tariffs to damage Washington’s economy, and we’re grateful that Boeing recognizes that the legislature has to solve this problem,” Rep. Sullivan said. “We will be working closely with Boeing and other legislators to protect family-wage, good-paying jobs provided by the aerospace industry and other sectors that will be impacted by tariffs if the legislature does not act this session.”

Boeing released a statement Wednesday in response to proposed changes to the tax rate.

“Boeing applauds the actions today by Washington State leaders to introduce this legislation. We fully support and have advocated for this action. When enacted, this legislation will resolve the sole finding against the United States in the long-running trade disputes between Europe and the United States over government support for the production of large commercial airplanes. This legislation demonstrates the commitment of Washington — and of the United States — to fair and rules-based trade, and to compliance with the WTO’s rulings.”

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