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Lawmakers hear pros and cons of new tax to ease rising property taxes

Bellevue. (KIRO Radio)

By Essex Porter, KIRO 7

As homeowners reel from the sticker shock of higher property tax bills, lawmakers in Olympia are considering a new capital gains tax to ease some of the burden.

Acme Fuel Company has been serving Olympia for more than 90 years. The business has been passed from generation to generation. Now owners fear the Capital Gains Tax proposal will make it costly for the current generation to retire.

That’s why current owner Christophe Allen testified before the House Finance Committee.

“If I go to sell my business now I’m hit with this tax on that sale.” To Allen, it doesn’t seem fair, “We’ve worked countless hours building our businesses up, nights, weekends, whatever and the value of our business, that is our retirement.”

Capital gains include profits from the stock market. The tax would be 7 percent but the first $50,000 of capital gains per couple would be exempt.

That means only 2 percent of the state’s population would be taxed.

“For the past 24 years I have lived off of unearned income,” Ruth Lipscomb said. She is retired from Microsoft. “I am perfectly willing and able to pay this tax and it’s a modest tax and it will go toward things that I really care about.”

Other exemptions include single family residences, condos, and duplexes. Also, farms and timberlands and retirement accounts.

Supporters say the money will ease the burden of rising property taxes. Lowering the bill by an estimated 50 cents for every thousand dollars of assessed valuation.

“I’m not trying to feed the general fund,” said the House Finance Committee chair, Rep. Kristine Lytton. “I’m not trying to buy other programs, I’m trying to keep people in their homes.”

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