Gee & Ursula: Is it time for an income tax in Washington state?

Jan 22, 2022, 8:05 AM | Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 7:31 am
income tax, Olympia...
A man walks with a U.S. flag on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, United States. (File photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(File photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Is it time for an income tax in Washington state? State Senator Bob Hasegawa wants to make it happen.

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A concern that many people have had about an income tax in Washington is that there is already a sales tax, and people don’t want to pay “double taxes.” But the proposal from Sen. Hasegawa would require a minimum cut of 75% on any sales, public utility, or property tax and B&O at the same time.

“When it comes to income tax, I’ve always said I would rather do the income tax than all of these other dink and dunk taxes that we do — really extremely high sales tax, all of this stuff,” KIRO Radio host Gee Scott said. “But for some reason, there seems to be this fight to get away from that, and I just don’t understand why. I think that so many things would get done in this state if we just had a simple income tax.”

“Now I know that’s not a popular opinion,” he added. “I’m from the state of Illinois, and so being out here, being in a place where there’s no state income tax — but I always feel that we end up paying more in other ways.”

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Guest host Aaron Mason says the tax argument is a tricky one.

“People seem to be very passionate, on the anti-side specifically, and part of me understands that,” he said. “They don’t want their money to be taken and thrown away, not used well, spent frivolously, and I don’t disagree with that. The problem is, from where I stand, I think taxes are a necessity.”

“We all live in a community,” he continued. “Whether we like it or not, we are all part of a bigger group. And that group needs certain basic necessities to function, and I believe that is the role of government to take care of those things, to manage those things — the way you pay for that is through taxes.”

He says we all chip in a little based on what we have and then that pays for the things that all of us use.

“I pay taxes for schools,” he said as an example. “I vote to approve like every school budget thing there is. I don’t go to school, I don’t have kids, but for me, it’s a good investment in my community because education is a good investment.”

Aaron also recognized that there is an argument about an income tax being unconstitutional in Washington state.

“I’m not a constitutional lawyer, I can’t speak to that,” he said. “But for me, that’s not a reason to not do something or at least look at it and maybe readdress it. Just because it’s always been doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best thing to do.”

Producer Andrew Lanier is in favor of an income tax and thinks this proposal from Hasegawa is a unique one, but says he can’t support it as is.

“I need to dig a little bit more into the details, but as I read it, as long as you cut a sales tax, utility tax, property tax, or B&O tax by a minimum of 75%, then your city would be able to start implementing an income tax,” he said. “Unless it’s statewide, and unless you’re saying remove the sales tax period, here’s what will happen: You will have an exodus of people from cities with high income taxes to areas with no income tax. Then you’re stuck with no tax base and those people, who, by the way, are supposed to be benefitted, you’re still going to be paying 3-5 cents, depending on where you live, on your sales tax.”

“I don’t want two taxes, period. It needs to be sales or income,” he added. “This state would repeal the state law that basically constitutionally bars income taxes, and I think that needs to be done. But I think the devil is in the details with this one.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee & Ursula: Is it time for an income tax in Washington state?