The Temple of Justice must do the people's work. POWEROFFOREVER / GETTY



@1 You're aiming your fire in the wrong direction. Supporters of this tax were perfectly fine with keeping it out of the courts. It's the opponents who filed the lawsuit.


@1 Is Capital gains really income ergo is this really an income tax?
With that said, I don't believe for a second that this will go to education. They will use this money for random pet projects thus expanding the government with programs that no one will ever have the courage to kill thus needing to expand tax revenue. Etc. Etc.


Courts don’t weigh in in “the will of the people,” they weigh in in the merits of a legal argument. It’s intentionally a separate branch of government for that reason.


@4 well in every other state that has a capital gains tax including federal its part of your income tax, so yes it is in fact an income tax.

Look if this has the support of the people then do the right thing and put it forth as a constitutional amendment. The dems control the entirety of the government so there is no reason they can't go this route except for the fact that they know this does not have the support of the people and will get voted down if they even try as it has every other time they have tried.

@2 you are being really naive about this whole effort. It was never about a capital gains tax. It was always about getting a case in front of the SC so they could overrule the previous decisions treating income as property. They knew it would get challenged and that is exactly what they wanted. This is a quote from Senator Pedersen during a 43rd Dems town hall last year.

“The next step was to do the capital gains tax, which is important – I mean, it’s not an insignificant amount of money – but the importance, in my opinion, is less about the dollars that it’s raising and more about the fact that the opponents are attacking it as an income tax, and that gives us a clean shot to go back to the Supreme Court and go back to the root of this entire problem,” Pedersen said at the March 15 virtual meeting.

He went on to say, “We’ve got to figure out how to have an income tax in our state, in getting the state Supreme Court to say, ‘You are free legislature to do an income tax, or a capital gains tax, or wealth tax,' you know, any of these things, with a simple majority, is what we’ve been working on.”


There was a state-wide vote on an income tax not too long ago. It failed. If this is such a winning issue, why don't you put it back up for a state-wide vote? (We already know the answer to this one.)

As @5 wrote: the job of the courts is to follow the law, not the wishes of The Stranger.

The lack of civics knowledge of the far left is only matched by that of the far right. We're a nation of extremist idiots all pandering for their special interests.


@5 Toto.....stop with real world facts! The TS and the crazies don't care about facts and the is all about their feelings.


"The court should listen to the power of the people and uphold equity in our tax system."

Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather see our judiciary objectively apply law to fact without regard to popular opinion. If you want to see what it looks like when courts do otherwise, take a look at some of the decisions coming from federal judges appointed during the Trump administration.

That approach may result in striking down the capital gains tax unconstitutional. That's totally fine: If there is indeed widespread public support for such a tax, it should be a simple matter to amend the state constitution.


@3 and @6 I'm aware of the strategic thinking behind the backers of the CGI. But its opponents had a choice. They could have graciously, if grudgingly, accepted the reality that this tax is extremely limited in scope and a reasonable, modest structural adjustment for a state that is dangerously dependent on one form of tax. Instead they took the bait, and as a result may well end up with an unambiguous ruling that all income taxes are constitutional. That's 100% on them.


CGT not CGI (ugh, can't edit)


There's something about native Washingtonians that makes them clutch their pearls and clench their spincthers whenever talk of any sort of income tax happens. They've really been indoctrinated.


@13: Washington was the fourth state in which I worked, and the first one without an income tax. In the decades I lived there, I never nice saw any indication an income tax would improve anything. Even now, the complaints about the regressive tax system never lead to any proposal to reduce or eliminate taxes on the poor, just to increase taxes overall. I imagine many voters in Seattle would eagerly pay more in progressive taxes if it reduced taxes on the poor (without even requiring revenue-neutrality) but again, the agenda is so obviously just to increase taxes, and no one is falling for it.


@10 you say it's limited in scope now but the only reason that is the case is because the sole intent was to get this in front of the court. If they let in pass the legislature would almost certainly began to expand it. In this session we already had a bill (SB 5335) that tried to lower the threshold to $15K and raise the tax to 8.5% and it hasn't even been ruled legal yet. The tax as currently constructed is nothing more than a Trojan Horse. If the SC let's it stand but doesn't overturn the income as property ruling the legislature will lower the limit and increase the tax, if the SC overturns the previous income ruling the legislature will move to implement a statewide income tax targeted at all brackets. As for the state being depending on one type of tax I really don't see that as a weakness. The state has literally been rolling in money the last few years and as has been noted several times there has been zero consideration to rolling back any regressive taxes, this is all new revenue to spend on whatever.


Expanding on @14, based on the most recent General Fund balance sheet,* the State will have $2,833,800,000 in reserves at the end of the 2021-23 biennium.

That's not even counting the "Rainy Day Fund" Budget Stabilization Account and the Washington Rescue Plan, which will contain additional 5,579,100,000.

In other words, after every single item in the 2021-2023 Budget and 2022 Supplemental Budget is fully paid for, the State will still be sitting on $8.4 billion in reserves. The legislature, however, is still looking for ways to increase tax revenue, and has failed to take any action to reduce regressive taxes.


I predict the court will sustain the initial superior court overturning of this tax, as they have similarly done their job in the past and ruled based upon law, not their personal political leanings. Props to these jurists. They won't be persuaded by articles like this. And they decidedly do not have a mandate to obey the will of the people. Courts can and have been the last bastion against bad stuff happening based upon such misplaced wills.

On the larger issues it is always interesting to see how some are very enthused and moralistic about taxing others as this tax largely does. Unlike say the US Income tax, that graduates in rate but impacts most working people at some level.

Please spare us the social justice angle. Many immigrants who have done well would be subject to this tax, as well as children of immigrants. And those of you who came here, or your parents from elsewhere, made a choice that this was a better place. Part of the reason this is a better place than the place you or they left is our system of government, capitalism, taxation and your ability to express yourself in the Stranger - and maybe via a combination of desire, education, luck and work - you or your children will be subject to such proposed taxes.

Those who would be subject to this tax actually pay already pay a lot of taxes in absolute numbers and percent of income, which capital gains are certainly a part of. And they pay a lot to the state. The number to be close to precise is 37% to the Feds, and a lot of sales tax, B & O, and property taxes to the state and city. My property tax bill on my home came in the other week at about $37,000, of which about $15,000 is to educate your children. Thank you - your're welcome. My pleasure. And this was a whopping 10% or so increase from last year, thanks to various votes to increase taxes. When you complain about housing and rent costs, remember some of this is self-inflicted as these taxes apply to rental housing as well.

I once did an exercise and asked some random people what percent of one's income they believed the wealthy were paying in taxes or should pay in taxes. The responses in general were quite a bit lower than the actual reality, which I guesstimate is around 42-45% of income. Some were incredulous at the actual numbers. And please stop with the idea that appreciated assets is income. If you buy a house or a painting 20 years ago that is now worth more, you will pay more property tax based upon assessed value of the house, but the increase in value is not income until and unless you sell the house and are taxed on the increase. The share of stock in my portfolio that has done well likewise, will be taxed upon sale. Just as I can't take a loss on the assets I own that I am underwater on, until and unless I sell and take the loss.

On the other hand, those who are low-income generally pay minimal to no Federal taxes, no state taxes on food and medications, and extract many tax benefits from others including food stamps, Medicaid, SSI, housing and transit subsidies, other social service costs and much much more - that vastly exceed the small amount of taxes they may pay. They are net takers, and we with wealth are net givers so that they can take. No complaints on my part. This is a component of a just society and we who cut the largest checks generally accept this reality. And I have left out the voluntary contributions via charity that underscore most non-profit organizations including arts, culture, education, social service and others that benefit all and allow tickets and access to be affordable to all. My family annually gives in the lower 6 figures and has set aside funds solely for this purpose in perpetuity unless it is totally spent down quickly. You're welcome.

But don't dare try to tell me that a clear form of income - Capital Gains, is not income because it does not suit the agenda to get it past the state constitutional ban on taxing it. I know that my comment is unrelatable to many who will read it, but I clearly had too much time on my hands this evening.


@13 — wrong. When Initiative 1098 was on the ballot in 2010, it would have reduced the state portion of the property tax levy by 20% in exchange for a 5% state income tax that didn’t apply to incomes below $400,000. It lost 64/36. It lost in every county in the state. It lost King County 54/46!

Link here:

The idea that there is some groundswell of support for a state income tax is ridiculous.


@17 Perhaps, but I'd bet voters would approve this particular tax. I-1098 actually polled well at first (and it did pass in Seattle by a wide margin) but the Great Recession enabled its opponents to argue persuasively that yes, the state's tax system is out of whack but Washington needs this competitive advantage right now.

@14 All I can do is speak for myself: I would gladly support a meaningful reduction of the sales tax (say, about half) in exchange for a high-end, progressive income tax. That combination would substantially lower the total tax burden for the vast majority. Failure to include a sales tax reduction in I-1098 was a major mistake (though it likely wouldn't have passed anyway, for the reason cited above).


@18 --- the issue with WA's tax system is the same as health care: if you poll people and ask whether something different that's relatively vague would be better than what they currently have, the answer will be yes. If you try to implement a specific plan, it will be deeply unpopular. Status quo bias is a real thing.


CKathes dear, back when I was just a little Catalina in Iowa, that's the kind of tax scheme we had: a 4% sales tax (with exemptions for food and used goods, which meant no sales tax at thrift stores!!!) and a progressive income tax (at least part of which could be written off against federal taxes).

Property taxes were high-ish, but in those days Iowa had very good public schools and a good university system that was quite affordable. We also had well-maintained state parks and lots of other governmental services. And you could claim a "homestead" exemption if you lived in your home, as well as a veteran's exemption (if, like Papa Vel-DuRay, one was a veteran)

Iowa has gone hee-haw now, so I'm sure the schools are failing. And the tuition at the U of Iowa - a mediocre institution at best - is laughably high.

But back in the day it all worked.


@6 - “ The dems control the entirety of the government so there is no reason they can't go this route…”

Dems do not have the supermajority needed in the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment


"tax the Rich
feed the Po'
turn around
no Po' no Mo'"

--@Ten Years After


@17: I specified Seattle, not anywhere else — I certainly did not include even the rest of King County.

My point was, and remains, that politicians are so hell-bent on spending money, they’re not even talking about reducing any of the regressive taxes which they (and the Stranger) keep whining about as justification for raising progressive taxes. It’s an incredibly stupid strategy, one likely to lose even in Seattle, but that’s the political “leadership” the state now has.


No, it would be gracious courtesy for the court to not uphold the tax as the top 1% already pay the most of the income taxes.


Raindrop, in my mind I used to imagine you looking like Melanie Wilkes, but I've changed that. You are the spitting image of Nellie Olson.


@24: I'm fine with you disassociating me from Olivia De Havilland - she was so rude to her sister Joan Fontaine.

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