Proposed initiative would wipe out new state taxes approved this year

Jun 19, 2019
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

The several new state taxes approved by the Legislature earlier this year would be wiped out in December if voters approve the proposed Initiative 1648 on the November ballot.

Supporters of I-1648 have until July 5 to gather the required 320,000 signatures to place the measure on the fall ballot.

I-1648 would place a one-year time limit on all new taxes the Legislature approved without a vote of the people. To continue to be charged for more than a year, the Legislature would have to vote every year whether to continue such taxes. It also would allow voters to continue taxes as long as a majority wished.

Initiative advocate Tim Eyman criticized legislators for passing a series of new taxes quickly and relatively late in the 2019 session, without sufficient time for voters to react or express objections. In some cases, no public hearings were held on some of the taxes and some legislators had not read bills that included new taxes, Eyman commented.

The Legislature passed 16 new tax laws during this year’s session. Included are increases in the business and occupation tax; an additional B&O tax on large banks; a new tax on vape smoking products; ending the sales tax exemption for qualified out-of-state shoppers who now must apply for a sales tax rebate later in the year; and a graduated tax on sellers of prime property.

Washington Retail is studying the proposal but has yet to adopt a position on the matter. Read more.

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