State Revenue

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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 Many are outdated and no longer serve their original purpose; others are simply giveaways to powerful interests that manipulated them into the tax code to serve their own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.

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Thank you for attending Budget Matters

Our Budget Matters 2018 policy conference took place on November 13 at Seattle Center. john a. powell from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and Gov. Jay Inslee were the keynotes. Stay tuned for the TVW coverage.  

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.

Testimonies in Olympia

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Watch our 2018 legislative session testimonies on TVW: