No legislator or city official has proposed that Spokane implement an income tax but, just in case, voters on Tuesday pre-emptively made it all but impossible…
Proponents of the income tax ban characterized it as a tool to grow business in Spokane, while opponents said it was unnecessary because no income tax proposal was on the table in Spokane.
Spokane appears poised to become the first city in Washington to ban an income tax via its city charter.
The income tax proposition was filed in April, but took on new importance in July after an appeals court ruled the state’s blanket ban on an income tax was unconstitutional. The court also ruled, however, that Seattle’s income tax on individual earners over $250,000 was unconstitutional, setting up a fight that appears headed to the state Supreme Court.
As we wrote last week, the appeals court rejected an offer to reconsider that controversial decision.
Jason Mercier, with the Washington Policy Center, writes,
Loudly slamming the door shut to a future income tax, voters in Spokane and Texas last night overwhelmingly approved income tax bans. 73% of Spokane voters in initial returns approved Prop 2 (charter amendment banning a local income tax) and 74% of Texas voters adopted Prop 4 (constitutional amendment banning personal income tax). In both cases voters made clear they want to maintain the competitive advantage of not imposing income taxes.
Although Texas was already one of the 9 states without a personal income tax, supporters of Prop 4 wanted to make sure it stayed that way. This follows the lead of Tennessee which also cemented its income tax ban in the state’s constitution in 2014. Washington officials should to do the same to make the state’s income tax ban court-proof. In 2017 there was an effort to do this (SJR 8204) but it failed with a vote of 27-22 (33 needed) in the Senate with opponents saying that there isn’t support for an income tax but voting to ban one was a “waste of time.”
Mercier closes with a question:
With 73% of Spokane voters wanting to ban an “income tax on wages, salaries, investments . . . or any other income source,” will lawmakers in Olympia finally listen or will they continue their capital gains income tax games?
We’ll soon see.