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Activists: Proposed tax breaks total $97 million

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm with 4 Comments »
February 16, 2011 4:50 pm

State lawmakers have proposed some $97 million-per-year worth of tax breaks, say activists who are pushing for closure of loopholes in Washington’s tax code.

I’ve written about some of the tax exemptions lawmakers have proposed this year for baseball stadiums, zoos, Goodwill, government and nonprofit sports leagues, film and TV companies, restaurant employees and other people and interests despite the $4.6 billion two-year budget shortfall.

Now 34 of the proposals have been tallied up by analysts at the liberal Washington State Budget and Policy Center, and their assessment of the total impact on fiscal 2013 is being touted by the anti-budget-cuts Economic Future Coalition as a sign that tax exemptions are “out of control and in serious need of systemic reform.”

The total that is still under serious consideration is much less, because a single tax-exemption bill that accounts for most of the budget center’s $97 million has already been gutted of its major provisions. The original version of HB 1165 would have cost a whopping $60 million a year, much of it not really exemptions but relaxed treatment for delinquent taxpayers.

Other caveats: The center only counted bills with fiscal notes, or legislative projections of cost, so there are more going uncounted. And it included the added costs to the state as well as the decline in revenues to state and local governments.

The reform being called for by the budget center and the coalition of social-service advocates, unions and liberal groups includes putting tax exemptions into the budget process and setting sunset dates that would force them to be reviewed at a later date.

There are 567 tax breaks on the books, the group says, 116 of them created in the last decade.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. Jordan, just a heads up, the link to the list appears to be permission only. I got a message saying that I wasn’t approved to view this Google doc.

  2. Jordan Schrader says:

    Derek, thanks for letting me know. Should be fixed now.

  3. we need to be equally yoked no special tax breaks period. on the flip side no punitive taxes either

  4. WashPIRG says:

    The problem here isn’t Democrats/Republicans – it’s all elected officials who coddle Special Interests over the Public Interest.

    You have to pay sales tax to buy a condom, but not Viagra!

    You have to pay sales tax on a new baby’s crib, but a poultry farmer doesn’t have to pay sales tax on bedding materials for chickens!

    The Legislature is seriously considering cutting Basic Health before they even talk about repealing the sales-tax exemption on Botox!

    Why?

    Because they – Democrats and Republicans alike – lack the courage to vote for a “tax increase” implicit in repealing even the most stupid of tax loopholes!

    Steve Breaux
    Washington Public Interest Research Group

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