December 9, 2019
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Tax structure work group meets and plans for 2020

A group created by the Legislature to model major changes to Washington's tax structure is planning for that work. The Tax Structure Work Group, originally created in 2017, met last week to lay out its agenda of public hearings and studies on the ways Washington's tax structure could be changed. TVW has video of the meeting.

Last year the Legislature extended the life of the work group to develop recommendations for tax reform and analyze the proposals while taking public policy. Opportunity Washington issued this analysis when the work group's life was extended last year.

The work group will take a deep look at proposals issued by a similar group in 2002, mapping out how those tax proposals would have affected government tax revenue in 2019 if they had been implemented.

The 2002 committee recommendations included adopting a personal income tax and extending the sales tax to consumer services. Other ideas considered by the committee included a value-added tax. This year the Department of Revenue will also reportedly model a capital gains tax.

Kriss Sjoblom of the Washington Research Council also notes that the Department of Revenue will also analyze several alternatives identified by the 2018 House Tax Structure Work Group. These alternatives include replacing the business and occupation tax with either a corporate income tax or a margins tax (a type of business tax used in Texas), and replacing the current 1% limit on revenue growth from the state property tax with a limit based on population growth and inflation.

The group's members include Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle (co-chair); Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley (co-chair); House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington; Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island; Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center; Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama; Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor; Pierce County Council Member Derek Young; Scott Merriman of the governor's office; Dean Carlson of the Department of Revenue; and Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle.

Read more about how to improve Washington's ways of taxing -- and spending -- in this article in the most recent edition of Washington Business magazine.

And as the new year begins, it's worth noting the analysis of longtime business writer Bill Virgin, who predicts this tax discussions in the election year of 2020 will be a "chair-swinging, bottle-tossing, mirror-smashing, western-saloon donnybrook."

Contact Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs, to learn more.

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Spreading Christmas Joy

Vote on U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement for the sake of Washington's economic growth

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Washington's Congressional delegation and Gov. Jay Inslee should advocate strongly for prompt approval of the new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The nearly complete agreement is enormously important to Washington's economic growth and job creation. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) also substantially improves environmental and labor protections over NAFTA, the 1994 agreement it will replace...

Inslee's support is important. He was a strong advocate for NAFTA while in Congress in the 1990s.

But campaigning for president last summer, Inslee was skeptical of USMCA, siding with wary unions and environmental groups seeking more aggressive mandates...

With Inslee now seeking another term leading trade-dependent Washington, he should be more publicly supportive of progress USMCA makes and benefits it would bring the entire state.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Speak up

Survey on Snake River dams is online. Help protect the region's economy and fill it out

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

We know December's to-do list is already long, but we've got an important task that must be added to your check-off list: Please fill out the state survey on the Snake River dams.

It can be found at

Don't delay.

We have been critical of this state effort since its proposal nearly a year ago, but now that written comments are being taken we encourage people to fill out the survey and let their voices be heard.

Read the full editorial in the Tri-City Herald.