Washington’s legislature has finally gotten its first hearing on whether the state should officially prohibit personal state income taxes. Originally this initiative was brought forth by Washington residents who want to rid themselves completely of the taxes in the state. Both politicians and residents seem to be supporting this initiative. However, it also has a fair share of critics who worry the ban could harm residents in the long run.

The History Of Income Tax In Washington

The current status of taxes in Washington is that residents are exempt from paying any personal income taxes. Despite this, residents are still looking to ensure they never pay income taxes, by having it put into state law.

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The Washington Supreme Court enacted a law In 1933 that allowed residents to not pay personal income taxes. So for decades, residents have been exempt from doing so.

Introducing Initiative 2111

If passed into law Initiative 2111 will make sure that residents all throughout the state will never pay personal income taxes again. This initiative would restrict anyone in the state, county, or city from collecting these income taxes.

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The Majority of residents in Washington have proposed and supported this initiative, they want to ensure that their current rights are not altered. If this is to be accomplished, the initiative would have to be signed into law.

Politicians Support The Initiative

The initiative has both the support of Redmond business owner Brian Heywood and politicians within the state; representative Jim Walsh also backs this initiative.

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Lawmakers in Washington have until March 7, 2024 to make their decision on whether they will or won’t pass this initiative. They also have until this date to make a decision on if they would like an alternative or just announce they will be refusing to move forward with it.

Some Critics Show Concern Over Tax Ban

While numerous residents support this initiative, there are also a significant number of critics that have publicly said that putting a tax ban into law could ultimately end up hurting the residents of Washington in the long run.

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Many Democrats in the state have openly expressed that they are not in favor of this initiative, and since it is GOP-led it kind of makes sense why they aren’t for it. The state legislature is predominantly Democrats, meaning there could be significant backlash with the initiative.

Next Challenge For The Initiative

Should state lawmakers agree to pass the initiative with its current terms, it will still face some challenges. If it is approved it will then be presented to Washington voters throughout the state.

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Many people think that this initiative is extremely popular. Therefore, common consensus lies with this initiative being passed and put into law once voters can decide on it.

Issues With Washington Taxes

Opponents of the initiative argue that Washington already has many tax problems, highlighting the inequalities in the state. This could only further complicate things should the tax ban be approved.

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Dylan Grundman O’Neill, a senior analyst at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says “States that go down this road of restricting the tax options available to residents and their representatives often have more trouble addressing upside-down tax codes, recovering from recessions, and maintaining adequate revenue in a changing economy.”

Critics Advocate For Changes On State’s Tax Code

In light of these criticisms, a lot of those who are against the initiative would like to see certain parts of the tax code altered or changed in the state.

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Grundman concludes “That crucial issue should be a top priority for any tax changes in Washington, but Initiative 2111 would do nothing to address it and generally seeks to reduce rather than expand the options available to Washingtonians.”

Washington Inequalities

Critics have also mentioned that if this tax ban were to be passed it may exacerbate Washington’s pre-existing inequalities in the tax code. Critics claim that the state already taxes low-income families more than it does the rich.

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Grundman further explains that, “Washington’s tax code in particular is severely imbalanced, the second-worst in the nation in terms of taxing its richest residents at the lowest rates and middle- and low-income families at much higher rates.”

Those That Support The Initiative Disagree

Supporters of the initiative have a different stance from many progressives who are pushing to have changes made to the tax code. Brian Heywood, who backed this initiative, argues that progressives keep trying to implement another income tax.

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Heywood said in a written statement “If we have told you once, we have told you eleven times: we do not want any type of income tax in Washington state. Sincerely, the voters.”

Republican Voters Criticize Washington Progressives

Heywood also clarified that the state currently possesses a surplus of funds. Meaning that there really isn’t a reason for why progressives would want to create another income tax in Washington.

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“Despite over $19 billion in surplus funds taken from taxpayers, radical progressives in Olympia are still trying to figure out ways to create an income tax,” Heywood wrote. “No means no. We don’t want a front door income tax and we don’t want a backdoor income tax.”

The Residents Will Ultimately Make The Decision

If lawmakers pass this initiative, voters all across the state will be the deciding factor in what happens. Despite it being supported by the GOP, many voters that are liberal might choose to support it.

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It has been decades since Washington has had a personal state income tax. As far as the initiative is concerned about 6,000 residents signed in favor of the initiative and 670 signed against it.