Q&A: Senator Lynda Wilson on the property tax exemption


Senator Lynda Wilson is the Republican leader of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. she presented SB 5463, which would exempt the first $ 250,000 of assessed property value from property taxes. The Wire spoke with Senator Wilson about the bill, as well as tax policy.

Aaron Kunkler: Could you talk about SB 5463, which would exempt from taxes up to $ 250,000 of assessed property value?

Senator Lynda Wilson: This is a bill that I introduced last year, and our budget was doing well, we have significant revenues. So I thought at that point that it would be good to give back tax relief to the people of Washington. So present the bill which provides for the property tax exemption for the first $ 250,000 of the assessed value. And that’s about a billion dollars a year, which would be what it would cost the state. But we can do it without harming existing public services or funding for education.

I think for the average homeowner that’s a pretty substantial tax break for them, I mean, it would cut their burden by about half. So if you own a house worth $ 250,000 you would pay no property tax, whereas if you had a house worth around a million dollars you would get a reduction in property tax. tax of about 25%. It’s a graduated tax, I guess you would call it. Along with that was the constitutional amendment that I also introduced which, if the voters passed it, would enshrine this tax break in the Constitution. Tax exemption would then be protected from the impulses of future legislators, like the rainy day fund. It would also ensure that higher taxes could not be assessed on commercial industrial property to compensate. It would therefore be a direct tax break, not offset by anything else.

AK: It was reported that there was an increase of about $ 6 billion in state revenue, even during the pandemic. Do you think this could impact the willingness of lawmakers to review tax codes in the 2022 session?

LW: You know we’ve been talking about tax relief for a while, and I think what came closest to that last year was the Working Families Tax Credit, which I also introduced. on this bill. I dropped that pretty early on. It was good because we worked on it together. It was a bipartisan agreement and it worked well. So I would like to be able to do something like that again for taxpayers this year.

AK: Taxes are always a hot topic in the legislature, but do you think they will be a staple in the 2022 session?

LW: I think if you look at how well we’ve handled this pandemic, in Washington state, I think that tells you that our current tax structure is in place, that it’s solid … I think if you start to change that, then it will start to affect the way Washington State collects its taxes from the people. And an income tax is – if you look at states across the country – the states that had the most problems were the ones that had an income tax. I mean, they’re the ones who haven’t weathered the pandemic as well as we … So I think there’s a lot to be said about how our tax structure is set up.

AK: Supply chain issues and inflation were also areas of concern. Do you have any idea what the legislature could do to help remedy this?

LW: Well, that’s a good question. I don’t think even the President of the United States really provides answers. Do we even understand why supply side problems are happening? I mean, we know that a lot of it happens when you shut down a business for three or four months at the time, like we did at the start of the pandemic, there are definitely going to be issues all over the place. line, we just didn’t know what they were going to look like. And now it’s reaching a climax. While we are working on this, we still have about three months before we even enter a session. So what will this look like when we get there? It is a constantly changing situation.

I think we’ll just have to be open to whatever we can do to help the ports, if there’s anything we can do there. We have a lot of ports in Washington. So I think it’s just going to be one of those things, we’re just going to have to play it by ear and see what we need to do.

I would love to see more people re-enter the workforce. I think this is a problem. Companies are looking for people to work, so if we can get more people back to work, that would help. You know, again, when you look at inflation, it’s pretty scary to see what’s going on right now when things are going up so quickly. So no specific answer for that, because I don’t know what it’s going to look like when we get there. I just hope we have a good Christmas, right? I hear that maybe in Black Friday there will be nothing on the shelf.

If we continue to increase these revenues, we may need to consider funding transportation through the operating budget. I do not think people can afford another gas tax increase. So we can use some of the funding for that. Because I think we’re going to talk about transportation. Because we couldn’t organize a special session. Like they thought we could do with a transport package. And so I think if we look at that, and we have the funding in the operating budget, we should consider doing it that way. This is kind of how we did it in our Republican budget last year.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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