The Seattle Times editorial board offers its final argument against Initiative 1098, which would establish a state personal income tax in Washington
OF all the things on the ballot, the most crucial is Initiative 1098.
Before you vote, look at what I-1098 does. It creates a new tax on personal income, without deduction for mortgage interest, charitable contributions or any other common deduction.
Look also what I-1098 does not do. It does not tax the poor, but it does not reduce any tax on the poor. It is not interested in the poor. It is about raising money.
Supporters say education and health care need the money. We believe adjustments could be made — adjustments the public sector resists making — that could reduce the need for so much money. We also believe that when the economy shrinks, all institutions have to reset their appetites. Government should not respond to recession by taking a deeper bite from people’s paychecks.
I-1098 has two sweeteners. Its supporters make much of them, because the sweeteners have been put there to be made much of. One is a B&O credit for very small businesses. The other is a 4 percent cut in the average property tax. These total 22 cents of every new income-tax dollar.
Supporters have the gall to say in the Voters Pamphlet that these sweeteners will “help our economy.” They are hiding the dollar and flashing the 22 cents.
The proponents of I-1098 have wanted an income tax for a long time. They see the lack of an income tax as a failing. We do not. We see it as a competitive advantage. We see success stories like Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Zymogenetics, Dendreon and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Washington would have less of all this if we had laid on an income tax.
Oregon has high-tech businesses, though its economy is not as deep and strong as ours. But the people of Oregon, having already granted their state an income tax, refuse, again and again, to give it a sales tax.
One or the other. Not both.
This is the key moment. This is when the salesman says, “Sign here.”
If you say yes, Washingtonians will be stuck with an income-tax that the Legislature is sure to expand.