State Revenue

Property Tax image

Great schools, access to health care, safe communities, and other priorities that serve us all are key to a strong economy and quality of life in our state. By investing in these priorities, lawmakers secure a brighter future for our state and its people. In order to support these foundations of thriving communities, our state needs dependable resources. And in order to provide those resources, everybody has to pitch in. That means rebalancing our upside-down tax code – one in which people with low incomes pay significantly more in state and local taxes as a share of income than the top 1 percent – with revenue reforms that make our tax code more equitable, sustainable, and adequate. 

Washington state’s tax code is:

  • Upside-down. Washington state has the most upside-down tax code in the nation. People with low and middle incomes pay up to seven times more as a share of their household incomes in state and local taxes than the wealthiest 1 percent. 
  • Not transparent. Most businesses compensate for the costs associated with the business and occupation tax simply by increasing the prices of the goods and services they sell to consumers. As a result, most lower- and middle-income Washingtonians wind up shouldering significantly larger tax bills at the cash register than they realize, since, unlike retail sales taxes, the higher costs associated with these taxes don’t appear on sales receipts.
  • Cluttered with tax breaks. Our state’s tax code is has nearly 700 tax breaks that divert money out of communities and into the hands of special interests. Many are outdated and no longer serve their original purpose; others are simply giveaways to powerful interests that manipulated them into the tax code to serve their own purposes. 
  • Behind the times. Our state tax code hasn’t substantially changed since the 1930s. Back then, Washington state’s economy was based on agriculture, manufacturing, and purchases of tangible goods, like cars and appliances. Today our state produces advanced software and other high-tech goods and services that weren’t even imagined in the 1930s. Our tax code should reflect our modern, innovative economy if we expect our state budget to support modern, thriving communities. 

Washington lawmakers should focus on bold, equitable revenue reforms that will fix our upside-down tax code, clean up wasteful tax breaks, and invest in the programs that allow our communities to thrive.

 
Research Highlights:


Related Research:

Document Actions
HIGHLIGHTS

Sign Up and Save the Date!

We will host two Budget Matters policy summits this year – one in Spokane on October 31 (register now) and one in Seattle on December 6 (registration coming soon)! 

Our Policy Priorities

Washington state should be a place where all our residents have strong communities, great schools, and the chance for a bright future. Our 2017-2019 Legislative Agenda outlines the priorities we are working to advance to build a better Washington.

Budget Beat!

Check out the Budget Beat webinars we hosted throughout the 2017 legislative session, including our most recent Budget Beat about federal budget proposals, featuring Louisa Warren of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, on our YouTube channel

Testimonies in Olympia

To advance our legislative priorities, the Budget & Policy Center team was in the state capitol throughout session testifying on a wide range of bills. Watch our testimonies on TVW:
Misha TVW