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Smell Test: Could Legislature extend income tax to everyone? Yes. Would they? Who knows

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Oct. 19, 2010 at 9:00 am with 39 Comments »
October 19, 2010 6:15 pm

WHAT THE ADS SAY: In TV ad after TV ad, opponents of Initiative 1098 have been portraying it as a slippery slope: The income tax may only be on high earners, but the Legislature can extend it to everyone, they say.

It “can be extended to you in just two years,” one says. And a radio ad urges you to “vote no, or you pay an income tax for the rest of your life.”

But a commercial aired recently by the initiative’s supporters says the opposite: “I-1098 can’t be changed without a vote of the people.”

So who’s right?

THE FACTS: I-1098 limits its income tax to people who make more than $200,000, or couples who make more than $400,000.

But the Legislature can change initiatives. Lawmakers would need a two-thirds votes in the House and Senate for the first two years, but only a simple majority after that.

Whether they would make such a big and potentially unpopular change is up for debate. Andrew Garber of the Seattle Times wrote a story Monday looking at that question, and noting that legislators have changed initiatives in the past. Just this year, they suspended tax-limiting Initiative 960.

If the Legislature did enlarge the income tax, it could be put to voters via a referendum. Opponents would need to obtain the signatures of a certain number of voters (the threshold stands at 120,557 today) to put it on the ballot. Or the Legislature could submit it to a vote of the people. The Yes on 1098 campaign says it’s sure voters would get to weigh in.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a stretch to imply, as Defeat 1098’s radio ad does, that extending it to everyone is a done deal. But the group’s TV ads are correct that it could be extended.

And it’s false to say, as the Yes on 1098 TV ad does, that it “can’t be changed without a vote of the people.” It can. A referendum is entirely possible, but that’s not a done deal either.

UPDATE 6:12 p.m.: It should be noted there’s a provision in I-1098 saying the tax rates may not be increased “without a majority vote of the legislature and submission of the changes to the people for approval.” But that can’t be enforced, because the Legislature can change that provision too. It can change any provision in an initiative.

Leave a comment Comments → 39
  1. Zintradi says:

    I think it’s a safer conclusion that the legislature would extend it rather than not, so why risk it? they need to do the tougher job of not growing the budget 30% inside of 5 years instead of finding new ways to tax.

  2. comment_tayter says:


    I’ll vote “no” because one way or another, if the tax is in place, us little guys will get stuck for it. And the “rich” folks it was intended to target will weasel out of it, as usual, because they can afford to pay for pricey tax accountants to figure out how to do so.

  3. metallica_fan_7 says:

    If anyone thinks that this won’t be extended to everyone if passed, you need a head check.

  4. coovertc says:

    The legislature hasn’t raised the state Sales Tax since 1983! They are so terrified of being accused of raising taxes that during a budget crisis they only raised taxes on a few targeted items.

    Please explain why anyone who isn’t a paranoid delusional would think the income tax would be extended after a vote? For that matter, if that really is your fear, they could do it anyway with or without the initiative.

    While the initiative could be modified after two years, that is not a rational or logical reason to vote against it.

  5. uratroll says:

    The Legislature can and will change an initiative as they, not the people, see fit. They’ve ruled against the will of the people before and you can bet your last dollar they WILL do it again. They consistently do what THEY want, regardless of how we the people vote.

  6. crappyemailname says:

    Well that’s a vote in the No column for me. Government is greedy and more money seems to be their answer to everything. I have little doubt that they would extend this tax as soon as they had the opportunity.

    Instead of creating new taxes why doesn’t the government focus on closing current tax loopholes? Or how about budgeting, real, hard choice budgeting? How about auditing all government programs and cutting the ones that aren’t working and redistributing those funds? These are common sense ideas that individuals and businesses have to live by on a daily basis, why does the govenment feel that the rules don’t apply to them?

  7. tree_guy says:

    Just vote no. The people like old Mr. Gates that love state income taxes can move to a state that already has them. Leave the rest of us alone.

  8. artdad11910 says:

    coovertc says: The legislature being able to extend the tax to everyone isn’t a reasonable or logical rationale to oppose its imposition.

    Say what?

    Your kind of thinking is a compelling reason to oppose the legalization of Pot – it would only enable your brain’s further downward spiral.

  9. BlaineCGarver says:

    I’m not even close to the 200,000 benchmark, and I’ll vote no. Rich people buy more stuff that is taxed. Ergo Sum, they already pay more taxes than we do.

  10. if the state would make a law with no loop holes in it that they could not bring back any type of sales tax and only have a income tax. a percentage straight across the board for all this maybe this would work.

    but to do what they are tring to do now is no good for anyone.

  11. TheOutlawJoseyWhales says:

    This is the legislature that routinely overrides the voters. They don’t care what you vote for, or against, they will have their way regardless. If anyone thinks they won’t extend a brand new income tax to everyone in Washington, you are a moron. vote against it, and at least it will delay an income tax long enough to get rid of this legislature, this governor and all her cronies. Washington state will no longer be a haven for crony-capitalists. We’re kicking you out, and you can’t have a piece of my income before I even see it.

  12. newshound100 says:

    Remember the lottery was going fix education . How about the Kingdome would be profitable . Who needs sex ? We’re getting screwed by Oympia daily.

  13. ktcmairman says:

    I will put my bets that the Capitol will bugger us ASAP!

    Oly cannot pass up a tax. Look at the hidden fee(tax) increases that have been hoisted upon us in that last session.

  14. FreeAmerica says:

    Why not just call the advertising “it can’t be changed without the people” what it is… a LIE.
    Why dodge the fact? Why not report on who put this false ad together?

    Call them out and expose the truth…the public deserves the truth.

  15. DubyaFTW says:

    Yes, and Obama said my premiums would go down $2500. *Snif* *Snif*
    Where was your political smell test when we were getting Obamacare shoved down our throats, hmm?

  16. FreeAmerica says:

    Supporters of 1098…. quite a list….

    Think they have a dog in this fight?


  17. It’s disingenuous to say that the Legislature can’t change it or to say that they would. In fact the Legislature has been very reluctant to touch the major taxes lately, even re-instituting the caps people voted in place.

    The reason they went after candy, cigarettes, and bottled water was a reluctance to go to the major taxes.

    I’m against 1098 for completely separate reasons but this fear-mongering is kinda absurd. Ironically, its purpose is to scare lower wage workers who would benefit greatly from a less regressive system.

  18. you enact a state income tax now and you will hear a giant sucking sound as those high earners who have their own business locate elsewhere!

  19. OldLefty says:

    “BlaineCGarver says:
    October 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm
    I’m not even close to the 200,000 benchmark, and I’ll vote no. Rich people buy more stuff that is taxed. Ergo Sum, they already pay more taxes than we do.

    Now THERE is someone who doesn’t study retail demographics.

  20. OldLefty says:

    “DubyaFTW says:
    October 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm
    Yes, and Obama said my premiums would go down $2500. *Snif* *Snif*
    Where was your political smell test when we were getting Obamacare shoved down our throats, hmm?”

    What part of the Health Care Insurance Legislation (there is no such bill as “Obamacare” it’s a made up name kinda like the story about his birth certificate) has started?

  21. UnbiasedReporter says:

    But the group’s TV ads are correct that it could be extended.

    A fact….

    And it’s false to say, as the Yes on 1098 TV ad does, that it “can’t be changed without a vote of the people.” It can.

    In others words…..A lie

    If I-1098 is so ‘great’ why lie about it?

  22. not only do i not want a new tax , i want are government fees taxes ect to be reduced by 40%

  23. When an income is passed,all the good things that were promised goes away and all the bad things that weren,t supposed to happen,HAPPEN!Passing 1098 is giving the legislature A LICENSE TO STEAL YOUR MONEY!And they can legally steal your money,because you gave them permisson to do just that!

  24. I meant to say, When an income tax is passed.(I must do a better job of proof reading!)

  25. uratroll says:

    So if they say or “promise” that they will not rewrite the Initiative in two years to include more or all taxpayers then why not back it up by removing the language in the Initiative that says they can? Because they’re a bunch of hooligan liars, that’s why. Vote NO on I-1098!

  26. So, the YES on 1098 folks are LYING!

  27. Until the fox loses his appetite for the chickens, Olympia won’t lose it’s appetite for more taxes. Don’t give the fox an open door to the henhouse. Make him squeeze through whatever tiny hole he can find; then smack him up side the head and seal that hole up.

  28. FreeAmerica says:

    $30 Car tabs?? gone
    Income tax for the wealthy….same result

    Resorting to underhanded tactics is exactly why voters don’t trust government.

    Very good Velmak …but I think the fox is already in the hen house, time to smoke them out.

  29. This is such a dumb Initiative to begin with ( tax ourselves really?) Like how could this be a good thing? The Legislature does a great job taxing us to begin with! Then find every known way to throw it all away. No Thanks I’ll vote NO on this one. And to think that some Rich guy wants to tax just the rich people? Hmmm. why does this sound so suspicious? Again I’ll vote NO. And to tell us all that it will be for education ( isn’t that what the Lotto is for as well as most of my property taxes?) again I’ll vote No on this one. Then the legislature Increases the Tax on candy bars and numerous other things to bail themselves out of bad management? But some rich guy thinks an Income tax for the rich is the answer? Hmmm Again I’ll vote no on this one…. I just hope people aren’t as stupid as the Rich guy and the Politicians think they are.

  30. klthompson says:

    I’m a firm believer in the adage, “if it can happen it will and at a most inopportune time”. If anyone believes that this income tax initiative will not lead to taxing everyone in the state there is a place on Steilacoom Blvd. where they should seek help.

  31. commoncents says:

    car tab initiative called for replacement of the tax based upon the value of the vehicle with a flat $30 fee. Where is that now? Let’s see…my Navigator had a fee of $30 for it’s registration fee. Of course, I did pay an additional fee based upon the weight of the vehicle but that was in place BEFORE the initiative and wouldn’t have been removed by the initiative. End result…the tabs are exactly how we voted them to be. Oh, by the way…that initiative removed the excise tax but opened us up to a property tax on our cars. Guess what? That hasn’t happened. So much for the fallacy that “if it can happen then it will happen.”

  32. agnestea says:

    It is time to stop arguing the point that governmental entities are “greedy” and “trying to steal your money.” We live in a capitalist society, therefore, plenty of other business in our market are successfully doing just that! The government is in place, to a certain extent, to keep in check the “greed” of other powerful entities. Why don’t we think about the possibility that the revenue from this new income tax could go to providing basic human needs to vulnerable populations. A hopeful attitude and believe that we can always rally for a change is necessary and could be effective if the tax was extended to others. Instead doing NOTHING because of selfish fear, why not do SOMETHING that has potential of being great.

  33. FreeAmerica says:


    Greedy Government?…you don’t say.

    Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.

  34. I’d like to vote for this, but not when the leg can change it (& it isn’t just the dems. Since when did the GOP care about anyone who isn’t rich).

    Sounds like we need a state constitutional amendment prohibiting the legislature from changing ANY initiative without a vote of the people.

  35. commoncents says:

    using the “legislature can just change it in 2 years” as a reason to vote no is just plain silly unless you plan on voting no on every initiative. Because the simple fact is that ANY initiative can be changed in 2 years. Moo has it right that we need to make sure that they can’t change them without a 75% vote (leaving it to that level forces them to work across party lines which kind of ensures that they are doing the right thing).

  36. GiveItaRest says:

    They wouldn’t implement the income tax on everyone in one fell swoop. They would slowly lower the exemption to only piss off a few at at time to minimize their re-election risk.

  37. Pat_riot says:

    If they can they will. Vote NO on I-1098

  38. Lakewoodguy says:

    Anyone who doesn’t think the legislature will extend this to everyone needs serious reality check. Just this year, they suspended tax-limiting Initiative 960 which YOU voted for to limit taxes. Don’t be a fool, once there is a state income tax in place, it will never go away and you will pay.

  39. common_sense says:

    1098 would set an irrevocable precedent in this state.

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