Another view of Governor Jay Inslee’s capital gains tax that is less comprehensive and friendlier to small family businesses is likely to be introduced later in this year’s legislature.
“We are considering proposals similar to what the House has made in recent years,” said Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle. “For example, the registration threshold was higher in the earlier House versions, so that’s a major difference. What we’ve had in recent years is also an exception for family businesses in good faith. “
Frame stressed the aim of any tax she and other Democrats propose, not to add to the public’s burden, but to ensure that those who are richest pay their fair share.
“Low-income people pay six times more taxes on their portion of their income than the richest Washingtoners,” Frame said. “So we sincerely hope that any new tax policy we have is a good one and takes us a step towards fairer tax legislation.
The bill originally presented was harshly received by small business owners and Republicans.
A 9 percent tax on profits from the sale of assets such as stocks, bonds, and other real estate has been proposed. A capital gains tax is at the core of Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed budget.
As originally proposed, Senate Draft 5096 would go into effect January 1, 2022 for all capital gains greater than $ 25,000 for individuals and more than $ 50,000 for joint applicants.
At its first hearing on Jan. 14, some said the bill was an insincere attempt to introduce an income tax that the Washington state constitution does not allow.
“Our budget is currently in balance with no need to raise taxes or create new ones,” said Senator Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver.
“The problem with this income tax is that it is an income tax, not an consumption tax. Washingtoners have said six times that they don’t want an income tax. “
Long-term capital gains are shown on federal income taxes, but are usually taxed separately from other income and at lower rates.
If the law is passed in its current form, it will almost certainly be challenged in court.
“If they don’t change their precedent from the 1930s when they came out and said income was property, then it should be unconstitutional,” Wilson said.
“Every other state’s finance department tells us they consider this to be an income tax. So I don’t see how we could be an outlier in one state that claims it’s an excise tax.”
In addition, Wilson stated that she believes that if this tax were passed as proposed, it would create the structure for the introduction of a traditional income tax on citizens.
While Democrats say the bill is primarily intended to tax sales of long-term stocks and bonds, corporate and non-residential real estate sales are not exempt, which worries many about unintended consequences.
“It’s funny when they say, ‘This is a tax for the rich. ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t feel rich,’ said Lois Cook after testifying on the bill.
Cook has been running America’s Phone Guys, a small business telecommunications retailer, with her husband since 2004. She was among more than 100 people who testified about the bill at its first public hearing on January 14th.
At the hearing, Cook raised concerns that were repeated throughout the night. As it stands, small business owners and landlords relying on the eventual sale of their business or property for retirement are concerned about how the tax could affect their future.
Cook said she and her husband have already talked about moving to a more tax-friendly place and if the tax doesn’t change they would likely move out of the state.
She also said she liked the concept behind the tax and would support it if there were exemptions for small business sales.
Current exceptions to Inslee’s proposal include apartment buildings, retirement assets, livestock, timber and capital for a trade or sole proprietorship business.
Jacob Vigdor, faculty legislative and professor of public policy and governance at the University of Washington, was one of the proponents. He did so on behalf of the more than 4,500 members of the UW faculty.
“One thing that keeps popping up is the idea that we are concerned about the regressive nature of taxation in Washington state,” Vigdor said.
“I think it’s just important for us to make it known that we understand that government support is part of what makes the university work, and if we had our Druthers we would have that support funded by a more progressive tax system. “
Vigdor also said he worries about a slippery slope with more taxes immediately afterwards is largely unfounded.
“Given the difficulty of getting progressive laws through and the election proposals that can pop up if something happens, I don’t see a slippery slope,” said Vigdor. “I mean, if there’s a slope, it’s not slippery, it’s more like sandpaper.”