In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill discusses a brief filed by the Washington Education Association in support of a state income tax
Taxpayers may be surprised to learn that the battle over a Washington state income tax isn’t finished. Earlier this year, Douglas County Superior Court Judge Brian Huber ruled that Washington state’s capital gains income tax is unconstitutional. This decision was appealed, giving the state Supreme Court the final say on the matter.
The Washington Education Association (WEA) has now filed a brief with the Washington Supreme Court in support of a state income tax. What you pay in property taxes and school levies is not enough — they want more. They want the court to allow the imposition of a graduated income tax. Brett Davis with The Center Square Washington points out, “In short, the WEA is asking the court to rule people don’t own their own income.” Evidently, both your children AND your income belong to the teacher’s unions.
Capital gains and Washington state law
Most Washington taxpayers understand the Washington State Constitution requires taxation of property to be “uniform” and limited to one percent. “Uniform” means everyone pays the same tax rate — a flat tax. Capital gains happens when you sell property for more than you paid for it. The US Tax code recognizes capital gains to be income.
In Washington State, the courts recognize that income IS property. Washington Policy Center points out that “…under eight decades of legal precedents, a graduated or targeted income tax in Washington is unconstitutional.” Furthermore, the last nine times voters have been asked to adopt an income tax they have resoundingly said “no.”
Doesn’t no mean no?
Ironically, the progressive groups that coined the phrase “no means no” do not apply it to their own policy-making. The voters have rejected an income tax again and again. No means no. The courts have rejected an income tax for 80 years! No means no.
Stubbornly, progressive politicians and WEA union leaders continue to contrive one legal challenge after another in order to siphon more and more money out of your pocket!
ESB 5096, signed into law in 2021, created a non-uniform, or graduated, tax on capital gains. In their filing, WEA progressives want the court to recognize capital gains as “money in motion”, something different from a hard asset like a piece of property. They use this argument to justify their claim on some of the income you earned on the sale of property.
The disinformation game
On their website, WEA claims to be “fixing our unfair tax code.’’ They claim “the rich” are gaming the tax code and “the wealthiest” must “be required to pay their fair share”. Fact check: ESB 5096 “created a 7 percent tax on the profits of sales of assets, such as stocks and bonds, above $250,000.
A sale of $250,000 of assets is hardly something only “the rich” would do. This type of sale is something an adult child might handle for an aging parent who needs long-term health care. Money invested in stocks and bonds was ALREADY TAXED… why should you pay the state again for the privilege of using your own money?
Become an activist for middle-class tax relief
If you are a teacher, contact your union representative. Ask him or her to tell the WEA you don’t support increased taxes on your savings and investments, or upon the savings of your neighbors. If you are “just” a taxpayer, ask your district for the name and contact information of the local WEA union rep, call or write to them about the WEA’s unconstitutional tax grab. If you are a parent or caregiver, have the same tough conversation with your student’s teacher, the principal, the superintendent, and even your school board members. In addition, you can contact the WEA leadership team directly. I’m sure WEA President Larry Delaney will enjoy hearing from you and learning how much you appreciate his efforts to steal even more money from your wallet during difficult economic times. The fact the WEA feels so entitled to take YOUR money tells me that it’s past time to “reimagine” education in Washington State. The Washington Education Association is out of touch with the economic realities facing everyday Washingtonians.
Finally, be sure to call and write your Washington state representatives and senator. Ask them to plan to repeal the Capital Gains Income Tax (ESB 5096) in the next session. Let them know this unconstitutional and unfair tax is going to have a huge negative impact on your family.
Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.