Why Washington’s tax system is the worst

Josh Kelety has an illuminating interview with Marilyn Watkins of EOI on Washington state’s regressive tax system.

Here’s some food for thought: The WA supreme court found a progressive income tax to be unconstitutional in 1933’s Culliton v. Chase because taxing higher incomes at a higher rate would violate Article VII, Sect. 1’s uniformity clause: “All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property.” Seems reasonable. But if it’s unconstitutional for the state legislature to create a progressive income tax that applies to everyone, then how can it be constitutional for the legislature to create line-item tax breaks to individual businesses? If the state supreme court wants a rigid interpretation of ‘uniformity,’ then it seems like *any* individualized tax breaks must violate the constitution.

Central Circuit

By Josh Kelety

Originally published in the December 2014 issue.

Marilyn Watkins has been a Policy Director at the Economic Opportunity Institute for 15 years, and she knows a heck of alot about topics such as Washington State tax policy and gender pay equity issues. The Central Circuit called her up to get a run-down of Washington State’s highly regressive tax structure.

So where does our tax money go? What services are we all paying for?

The [state] general fund budget is what we are really talking about here … half of that goes to the K-12 public education system, roughly 10% goes to pay for the whole system of higher education including the community and technical colleges as well as the four year universities. There’s some social and human services, children services, health services for seniors, services for disabled people … and then of course there is the whole…

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