Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Initiative 1098

Sep.
23rd

An income tax to throw good money after bad

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Initiative 1098 is the most slickly packaged measure on the November ballot.

It would enact a new income tax on wealthier Washingtonians – 5 percent on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or couples earning more than $400,000. If the idea of soaking the rich doesn’t quite close the deal, the initiative throws in two other sweeteners: a 20 percent cut in the state property tax and a higher exemption from the state business and occupation tax.

The latter two provisions allow its supporters to tout I-1098 as a tax cut. Which it is – except for the fact that it raises four times as much in taxes as it cuts.

In fact, the “middle class tax relief” it would deliver to homeowners would be barely perceptible: Because the state’s share of property taxes is small, a reduction of 20 percent would translate into savings of about 4 percent.

Clear away the clutter, and I-1098 is an attempt to create a tiered income tax without benefit of an amendment to the Washington Constitution. The state supreme court has forbidden that in the past; the initiative’s sponsors are hoping today’s justices will have different ideas when I-1098 inevitably hits the courts.

The measure has several strikes against it: It may be illegal; it would target wealth-creation in the middle of a recession, and it would enact an income tax with no constitutional limits or corresponding constitutional caps on other state taxes.
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Sep.
2nd

Our meetings on high-earners tax, liquor privatization

TVW has posted the footage of the editorial board’s Tuesday meetings with supporters and opponents of initiatives 1098 (high-earners income tax), 1100 and 1105 (liquor privatization).

We consolidated our meeting on 1100 and 1105 since they concern the same subject; we wanted to be able to compare the two side-by-side. Even after an hour with the supporters, I’m still a bit confused about the extent to which they differ. We’ll be doing more research before we settle on which to support.

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Aug.
26th

Phil Talmadge: Don’t bank on a state income tax

The Washington Policy Center, a conservative outfit, is touting this surprising legal analysis of the income tax initiative on the November ballot.

It’s surprising, to me anyway, because it was written for the think tank by Phil Talmadge, once a prominent Democratic legislator and Washington Supreme Court justice. And because it quite bluntly concludes that Initiative 1098 is unconstitutional.