On today's InFocus podcast we're covering the latest news, including our new Policy Brief on business taxation in Washington state. Washington businesses pay 58 percent of state and local taxes, and have some of the highest tax burdens in the country. We also talk about the latest state budget outlook, and problems many school districts are facing with Washington's land-use law, the Growth Management Act.
We're out with a new policy brief on business taxation, "Washington State Businesses Pay 58 Percent of State and Local Taxes." It gives an overview of how and how much Washington businesses are taxed, and compares us to the rest of the country.
Here are some highlights:
In today's podcast we do a deep dive into Gov. Jay Inslee's 2017-19 state budget proposal, the subject of our latest Special Report which you can read here.
The governor's budget plan includes $4.762 billion in new spending and $4.369 billion in new and increased taxes, including a new carbon tax and a new capital gains tax.
Washington's Business and Occupation (B&O) tax stands out as one of the few gross receipts taxes (GRTs) still around in America. Last week the Tax Foundation wrote critically of GRTs, noting that
Though gross receipts taxes are business taxes and as such are sometimes viewed as progressive, in reality, they have potential to be more regressive than sales taxes as they pyramid and are passed on to consumers.
Today we're digging further into last week's blog post on other states that want to implement, or have implemented, elements of Washington's tax system. In Oregon, some yearn for a sales tax to bring stability to state budgeting (the state income tax, they say, is far too volatile).
With the first meeting today of Gov. Inslee's legislative McCleary workgroup, we're likely to see another round of calls for new taxes - specifically, an income tax and/or a capital gains tax - to fund the rest of the state's K-12 obligations.
Today we're discussing Tim Eyman's latest initiative, I-1366. It would cut the state sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent if the state Legislature doesn't put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to require two-thirds legislative approval (or voter approval) for tax increases. As we noted in our recent Policy Brief on I-1366, a one-percent sales tax cut would reduce state revenues by $1.590 billion in 2015–17 and by $3.066 billion in 2017–19.
Governor proposes $12 billion transportation plan fueled largely by new carbon fee (or is it a tax?)
Gov. Inslee launched the 2015 transportation finance debate yesterday, unveiling an ambitious plan and introducing a new "cap and trade" program. From the news release:
Rather than raise the gas tax on all motorists, the plan would be funded largely through fees and bonding as well as on a new carbon pollution charge. Sources of major transportation-related pollution, such as the oil and gas industry, will pay a charge for every ton of carbon they emit into the air.