During the upcoming legislative session there will need to be tough funding decisions made by the legislature. The State is currently embroiled in two court cases that directly affect where our tax dollars will go. One is the McCleary case, which deals with school funding, and the other is actually a series of cases in which the State is being held in contempt for not adequately funding mental health care. The legislature will obviously need to find funds somewhere to meet both demands. One proposal that has been floated in the Senate is a statewide Income tax.
The income tax is actually a much fairer tax system than our current system that relies primarily on property taxes by broadening our tax base. It would effectively tax those moving into Seattle who are part of the tech sector, request more social services, and have no intention of owning property thereby allowing them to skate by without paying their fair share. However, the current proposal is flawed in that it also raises taxes on homeowners who already pay disproportionately into the State’s general fund.
Currently in the State, property taxes are one of the largest sources of revenue, and those taxes hit the middle class hard. Every year property taxes go up, and families that have done nothing other than decide that they want to be homeowners are being punished with higher taxes. Now the legislature wants to tax them further to support services that most of these homeowners will not use. The bill in the Senate does have a small offset by lowering property taxes, but not by enough to exempt middle class homeowners from a tax increase, which is especially galling since those homeowners are the reason we have been able to fund these services for so long. I will not support any income tax that does not allow for homeowners to write off their property taxes up to a certain amount, so that they will be exempt from the higher tax burden that an income tax would impose. We cannot tax our middle class out of existence. We need solutions that preserve the dream of homeownership for all Washingtonians, not ideas that further polarize us into the haves and have nots.