Opinion: Judge removes ‘excise tax’ from I-1929 (capital gains income tax repeal) ballot title

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center offers the latest on the Thursday ruling by a Thurston County Superior Court judge.
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Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center offers the latest on the Thursday ruling by a Thurston County Superior Court judge

Jason Mercier
Washington Policy Center

We have an official I-1929 ballot title and summary. During her ruling, the Thurston County Superior Court judge said it’s appropriate to avoid using “excise tax” or “income tax” when describing the tax. Here is the official ballot language as approved by the court today:

Jason Mercier
Jason Mercier

“Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1929 concerns taxes.

Concise Description: This measure would repeal a 7% tax on annual capital gains above $250,000 by individuals from the sale of stocks and certain other capital assets (exempting, for example, real estate and retirement accounts).

Ballot Measure Summary: This measure would repeal a 7% tax imposed on the sale or exchange of certain long-term capital assets by individuals who have annual capital gains of over $250,000. The tax applies to the sale or exchange of stocks, bonds, and certain other longterm capital assets, but exempts, for example, real estate, retirement accounts, and certain other assets. This repeal would operate retroactively to January 1, 2022, as well as prospectively.”

Though a decent outcome overall, I do have to laugh that the judge said it’s prejudicial to say in the summary the capital gains tax is based on an individual’s federal income tax return since that is exactly what the bill says. Per SB 5096:

“’Federal net long-term capital gain’ means the net long-term capital gain reportable for federal income tax purposes…”

I was happy that during the countersuit arguments from the “tax the rich” campaign I was able to get a Bingo blackout with the number of times “excise tax” was used in its closing arguments.

The I-1929 campaign can now begin to gather signatures. To qualify for the ballot, signatures of at least 324,516 (405,000 recommended) registered voters are due no later than 5:00 pm on July 8, 2022.

Jason Mercier is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center.

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