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Income tax on high-wage earners?

by David Ammons | April 21st, 2010

taxesIn the seven decades since Washington’s first (and only) voter-approved state income tax was thrown out by the state Supreme Court, voters have been asked regularly to revisit the issue.  It could be on the 2010 statewide ballot, if Bill Gates Sr. and other sponsors of Initiative 1077 collect enough signatures in the next two months.

It’s the latest controversial issue to surface as possible fodder for the November 2 ballot. The potential plans are tax cuts, Tim Eyman’s anti-tax measure, a marijuana decriminalization measure, and homebuilders’ proposal to allow private carriers to offer coverage for workplace injuries.

Gates, father of the Microsoft co-founder and himself a prominent attorney and philanthropist, officially kicked off the campaign in Seattle on Wednesday.  The plan would reduce the state share of the property tax 20 percent and reduce some business tax bills for small businesses, while imposing an income tax of 5 percent for earnings above $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, with higher taxes for those earning even more.

Gates said the plan would shift taxes from low and middle-income people and make a fairer, more stable tax system that generates about $1 billion a year more for education and other purposes. A similar plan surfaced in the state Senate this session, championed by Majority Leader Lisa Brown, but went no place.

Gates predicted an expensive campaign, and opponents already were lining up Wednesday.

Oregonians recently upheld a high-wage earner income tax increase.

2 Responses to “Income tax on high-wage earners?”

  1. The problem with income taxes is that even if they start on the “rich,” they never stay there. One day the “rich” are people making over $2 million. An election cycle later, the “rich” are people making over $200k (The Clinton campaign famously categorized people earning more than $200k/year as “millionaires”). Next thing you know, it’s everyone. That’s what happened in just about every other state.

    The biggest reason I chose to live in Seattle instead of San Francisco is because of taxes. If this goes through, I’d might as well move south. Minnesota gives its residents $400/year as an apology for the weather. How about it, Seattle?

    I also think the whole “rich vs. poor” class warfare that the backers of this tax are using is deplorable. There was a guy at the Fremont festival a couple of weeks ago haranguing people over it with slogans like, “Let’s kill the rich!” Really? You’re advocating bloodshed like it’s 1917?

    If you’re poor and intend to remain poor for the rest of your life, then congrats on making that choice. But some of us aspire to greater things, and don’t necessarily want to be dragged down by some Communist sense of “equality.”

  2. Here’s the way I see it. The leaders of any party will never “start on the rich” nor will they ever touch the rich. The will always tax the middle class and lower class much more. The reason is quite simple – who do you think the leaders of the parties go to for financial support and sponsortship? It won’t be the middle class or lower class… so why bit the hand that feeds you?

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