Washingtonians have repeatedly said “no” to an income tax. And historically, the Washington Legislature has followed the will of the people by not imposing income taxes. In 2021, that all changed.
This past year, the Washington Legislature defied the will of the people and implemented their own income tax, calling it a capital gains tax. They know it is unconstitutional and they know it is an income tax. The attempt to rebrand the income tax, by renaming it a capital gains tax, is like putting lipstick on a pig.
Our state has as a competitive economic advantage without an income tax. In fact, the Department of Commerce continually advertises this in promotional materials that seek to attract new business to Washington state. Having a healthy and thriving economy is good for Washington.
Back in 1984, the Legislature sought to prevent local municipalities from creating their own income taxes by passing a law (RCW 36.65.030) stating, “A county, city or city-county shall not levy a tax on net income.” This RCW came to light in the past few years when the city of Seattle tried to enact their own city income tax. The city’s income tax was determined to be unconstitutional; however, the courts also invalidated that same RCW in the process. This invalidation was simply because the bill contained multiple items that were outside of the scope of the bill’s title, and the state has very specific laws about how a bill must be named in relation to the content.
I, along with many other members of the Legislature, have made multiple attempts to reaffirm the will of the voters and re-enact the intent of the RCW with new legislation that is properly titled. There has been a surprising (or perhaps, not surprising) effort from legislators in the Puget Sound area to do the exact opposite.
So why do I support a local income tax ban?
Sometimes playing defense just isn’t enough. As citizens, we need to take every available action to promote and protect our economic vitality here in Central Washington. The vast majority of us want fiscal responsibility from our government and, by putting forward a ban on local income tax, we are showing our commitment to being fiscally responsible.
Opponents may say there are no new taxes being proposed so this is an unnecessary ban. But laws do not always need to be reactive and should be enacted to establish standards and protect our liberties and rights.
By banning a local income tax now, our city government will remain fiscally accountable to the people of Yakima. This is an opportunity for us to be proactive and set the standards now, instead of being reactive later. This ban serves as a reminder, direct from the citizens to the government, that Yakima does not want a local income tax.
I support this ban on a local income tax and I encourage you to support it on the ballot in November.