Taxation

The 2019 state Legislature passed 16 new tax laws, many of which Washington Retail opposed on grounds that they would hurt consumers and the overall state economy.

Included in the tax package were increases in the business and occupation tax; a doubling of the real estate excise tax; an additional B&O tax on large banks; a new tax on vape smoking products and ending the immediate sales tax exemption for qualified out-of-state shoppers. Those shoppers now must save their receipts and apply for tax refunds later.

Opponents of the legislature’s 18% increase in state spending pointed out that existing growth in tax receipts from the healthy economy would have allowed a 14% spending increase without needing any new taxes. Retailers along the border with sales-tax-free Oregon may be especially hurt because the immediate incentive to buy goods in Washington was removed in July of 2019.

The new taxes inspired an attempt to repeal them but a signature campaign to qualify an initiative on the November 2019 fell short of requirements to qualify for the ballot.