Dow Constantine wants to fix unfair Washington taxes



Constantine was recently the keynote speaker at an event for the Sound Cities Association. Here, he laid out his argument that Washington taxes are not being collected fairly. In short, families at the lowest end of the income ladder pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than those earning at the highest end. Also, households in a city like Seattle are paying much more than households elsewhere.

Constantine made this example:

It was mentioned that I live in West Seattle. My folks live in the house in which I was raised. It’s a modest house owned by two long-retired public school teachers. They get their pension; they get their Social Security. And the Legislature just handed them a big property tax increase on this little house in which I was raised.

They are going to be paying more for schools statewide, but my mom’s brother and his wife – my aunt and uncle – live down in Centralia. They are also long-retired public school teachers. They also live in a modest house they’ve owned for a long time.

Their school district is going to get subsidized by my parents and they are very likely going to get a tax cut. Even though they have the exact same income as my parents. That is clearly not fair.

You can see the data he presented here. His speech comes as Seattle is championing an effort for an income tax; the city plans to take its case all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Unfair Washington taxes

Constantine’s speech, however, was short on specific solutions to the issues around Washington taxes. He did point out examples of “things that could be different.” He also said “no one is actively considering” an income tax (someone might want to point him to Seattle’s Supreme Court case).

Constantine suggested:

  • Recast the sales tax: Apply it to more types of sales, but at a lower rate. This is also done in Hawaii, New Mexico, and both North and South Dakota.
  • Tax capital gains — income that people don’t earn — as a way to offset property taxes.
  • Allow governments to tax app downloads (Constantine admits that the local tech industry might not be in favor...


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