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Gov. Jay Inslee says extending temporary taxes is not a tax increase. What do voters think?

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
February 5, 2013 1:56 pm

They are split, according to a new survey by veteran pollster Stuart Elway, but they narrowly disagree with Inslee.

The Washington Realtors, which opposes extending the 2010 “temporary” increase in business-and-occupation tax rates, commissioned the poll question that was asked Jan. 24-31. Its finding: 49 percent said it would be a tax increase to extend the higher rates. Another 42 percent said it would not, while 9 percent had no opinion.

Elway said the group viewing it as a tax increase make up a statistically-significant plurality of voters, but not a majority.

“We’re as split on these questions as we always seem to be,” Elway said.

The wording, as always in polls, is crucial. Here’s the question asked:

Some years ago the Legislature passed temporary increases in some business taxes. Those taxes are now set to expire. In your opinion, would extending those temporary tax increases for a few more years be considered a tax increase? Or not?

Inslee said no, without endorsing the extensions, last month: “Since they do not increase taxes, they are not a tax increase. That’s a numerical, mathematical conclusion that Huskies and Cougars, no matter where you went to school , can agree with on a mathematical basis.”

The poll doesn’t distinguish between Huskies and Cougars, but it found 50 percent of voters from Eastern Washington see an extension as an increase, while just 39 percent of Seattleites see it that way. The percentage was highest in the region spanning Pierce and Kitsap counties, with 58 percent.

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