Gee & Ursula: Is it time to impose an income tax in Washington State?

Is it time to impose income tax in Washington State? State Senator Bob Hasegawa wants to do it.

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

“When it comes to income tax, I’ve always said I’d rather do income tax than all these other dink and dunk taxes that we do – really extremely high sales tax, all that “said host Gee Scott. “But for some reason there seems to be this fight to get away from that, and I just don’t understand why. I think so much would be done in this state if we only 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 here, being in a place where there’s no state income tax — but I still feel like we end up by paying more in other ways.”

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Guest host Aaron Mason says the tax argument is tricky.

“People seem to be very passionate, on the opposite side in particular, and part of me understands that,” he said. “They don’t want their money taken and thrown away, misused, spent lightly, 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’re all part of a bigger group. And this group needs certain basic necessities to function, and I believe it’s the role of the government to take care of those things, to manage those things – the way you pay for that is through taxes.

He says we all contribute a little based on what we have and it pays for the things we all use.

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

Aaron also acknowledged that there is an argument that an income tax is unconstitutional in Washington state.

“I’m not a constitutional lawyer, I can’t talk about that,” he said. “But for me, that’s no reason not to do something or at least look into it and maybe fix it. Just because it’s always been the case doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best thing to do.

Producer Andrew Lanier is in favor of an income tax and thinks this Hasegawa proposal is unique, but cannot support it as is.

“I have to dig a little deeper into the details, but as I read, as long as you reduce a sales tax, utility tax, property tax, or B&O tax by at least 75%, then your city could start implementing an income tax,” he said. “Unless it’s statewide, and unless you say remove the sales tax period, here’s what’s going to happen: you’ll have an exodus of people from cities with taxes on the high income to areas without income tax. Then you’re stuck with no tax base and those people, who by the way are supposed to benefit from it, you’re still going to pay 3 to 5 cents, depending on where you live, on your sales tax.

“I don’t want two taxes, period. It has to be sales or revenue,” he added. “This state would repeal the state law that constitutionally prohibits 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. to 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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