Washington’s finances are a mess. Very likely, the state needs both spending cuts and a revenue infusion. And we need to do something quick.
So I say, let’s go ahead and eliminate tax credits for working families. Let’s delete the paid family leave benefits. After all, those things don’t affect the ordinary people of Washington. But whatever we do, we must never close the tax loophole on sales of tangible personal property related to a building or structure that is an integral part of a laser interferometer gravitational wave observatory. Not in these tough economic times.
I mean, I can see the merits of overriding a citizen’s initiative to reduce classroom sizes. And I can see abrogating contracts with state employees. Anyway, those hardly have any meaning for working folks. But it is strictly off limits to consider eliminating the tax exemption on sales of carbon and similar substances that become an ingredient or component of anodes or cathodes used in producing aluminum for sale. That’s unthinkable.
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I hope you’ll pardon my sarcasm. It’s just a little galling to hear the state’s leaders talk about slashing social services and backing off climate policy promises, but apparently refuse to consider tightening up the Swiss cheese of tax exemptions written into state law. (You can see the whole list here.)
We have sales tax exemptions for natural gas used by aluminum smelters and for semen used for artificial insemination, not to mention dietary supplements; to say nothing of the tax exemption for property and services that enable heavy duty diesel vehicles to operate with onboard electrification systems.
Look, some of these exemptions may be good ideas. Heck, they may be great ideas. But you know what else is a great idea? Here’s one: not hacking away the safety net for the most vulnerable people in the state. It’s also a good idea to honor employment contracts and give working families a break right now.
In that context, is it really critical that we continue to provide a tax loophole for sales of human blood, tissue, organs, bodies, or body parts for medical research and quality control testing?
So how much revenue are we leaving on the table? What’s the worth of these loopholes?
We need these figures in the public discourse. We need them now. That means you, Olympia press corps.
A big tip of the hat to John DeVore at Horsesass. Again, you can see the full list of state tax exemptions here. I promise you, it’s nothing short of fascinating.
I did read this, Eric, and I agree that it’s a great piece; I’m pro-sarcasm, and I vote!The problem is an old one… how to get the masses of ordinary, non-lobbying citizens to have their interests represented and considered by legislators? We can group up and hit them on a specific issue (WA Toxics just contacted their list about an upcoming anti-Bisphenol A push), but it’s pretty frustrating sometimes to feel like there are so many different battles to be fought.
Okay – okay!First, I don’t think that either of the two social net programs you’ve cited will be cut – they were never funded!! (Right?)Second, I kinda like the incentive for diesel trucks to have the on-board electrification – better than using fossil fuel for heating or cooling while they are parked for mandatory rest stops.And third – hounding the press corps for not covering the hypocrisy. Hah! That and dozens of other issues that should be front and center in the minds of me and thee. And, as we now know, it will only get worse. I wonder how important climate and Puget Sound restoration – among many issues – would be to the legislature, the Governor and the electorate if it weren’t for Lisa Stiffler and Robert McClure at the PI . . . But, yeah, generally, the sarcasm is well founded. Do you expect any better? Washington just got rated the number one place in the country for business by US World and Business Report, in part because ” . . . Washington also has very low taxes, making the costs of growing a business quite low. It does not have its own income or capital-gains taxes, either personal or corporate.”
Eric de Place
Saratoga,In light of yesterday’s depressing revelation about the Seattle P-I, my final sentence seems a bit flat-footed. The number, complexity, and expense of the tax loopholes—together with our other fiscal objectives—is some of the best evidence I can imagine in support of having professional journalists covering state and local politics. We’re all poorer when their ranks are thinned.
Eric, did you see the letter the Northwest Progressive Institute wrote to Gov. Gregoire on tax exemptions (NPI calls on Governor Gregoire to include repeal of tax exemptions in 2009 budget)?