Washington won't accept income tax -- even on the very wealthy

A major concern is that once an income tax is in place, it will -- at some point -- be reworked so it will be imposed on everyone.


So, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown wants to tax the filthy rich and give a tax break to the good, hard-working people who are trying to eke out a meager living.

Brown, D-Spokane, didn't phrase it exactly that way, but that was certainly the political picture she was trying to paint. She and a few of her Democratic colleagues apparently believe setting up a clash of classes could be enough to finally impose a state income tax.

But why now?

Perhaps because it's clear the state is going to raise taxes or impose new ones to balance the budget, which is $2.6 billion out of whack. The people, albeit many of them begrudgingly, are resigned to the reality that taxes are going up.

It is happening across the border in Oregon. That state's voters recently approved an increase in their income tax for the wealthy -- $250,000 for households and $125,000 for individual filers. If it worked in Oregon, why not Washington, right?

Brown obviously felt now is the time to try.

Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, has introduced legislation that would put on the ballot a measure imposing an income tax of 4.5 percent on the wealthy -- $200,000 for individuals, $300,000 for heads of households and $400,000 for married couples -- while reducing the statewide sales tax by a penny.

Taxing the rich and tossing a penny to the poor (metaphorically speaking) isn't the answer.

Washington's tax policy, which is heavily dependent on the sales tax, should be a concern to lawmakers. The state has oodles of cash when times are good because people are spending freely, but it faces huge revenue shortfalls when the economy is in the toilet.

This tax-the-rich plan is going to cause those with hefty incomes to live elsewhere -- and perhaps take with them some of the jobs we peasants do to keep gruel on the table. Let's face it, you generally don't make $400,000 a year unless you own a business or have a highly prized skill.

Beyond that, we fear that once an income tax is in place, it will -- at some point -- be reworked so it will be imposed on everyone.

That concern will likely be shared by Washington voters, which is why the chances of getting this proposal approved hovers around zero.

An income tax imposed only on the rich is probably also unconstitutional in this state.

A 1933 state Supreme Court ruling says a property tax (income is legally considered property) must apply equally. That means it would take more than a simple majority approval of the tax to make it law, it would require a change in the state constitution. Amending the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate as well as approval by voters.

Brown, Franklin and other supporters of this dubious idea are wasting their time and ours.


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