Late last month, Washingtonians for Education, Health, and Tax Relief filed a ballot initiative to reduce the state's structural deficit and reduce the unfairness of the state's tax structure. One of the lead organizers of the effort to get Initiative 1077 on the ballot and approved by voters is Bill Gates, Sr.
Gates wrote in a recent Seattle Times op-ed, "I hope you will join me in supporting real tax reform to benefit the middle class and small business in Washington state, while making a much-needed investment in our schools and health systems. It's an idea whose time has finally come."
According to a fact sheet from the Economic Opportunity Institute, the initiative would:
- Introduce an income tax on couples with incomes above $400,000 and singles over $200,000;
- Reduce the state portion of the property tax by 20%;
- Eliminate or reduce the Business and Occupation tax for many businesses by raising the small business credit from $420 to $4,800 per year;
- Dedicate net new revenues to education and health;
- Require regular reporting on how revenues are spent and require that future changes in the income tax be approved by a vote of the people.
ITEP's recent report, Who Pays?, which analyzed the impact of tax structures in all fifty states, found that yet again Washington has the most regressive tax structure in the country. Serious efforts in Washington to increase tax fairness should be welcome news to tax justice advocates everywhere.