Proposed Bill is Income Tax for All Washingtonians

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If you follow the news from Olympia, you've probably heard of SB 6147, proposed by Senator Kohl-Welles as a one percent income tax.

The good news is this has no chance of passing this session.

The bill offers a standard deduction of one million dollars for people filing jointly, and half a million for singles, so few people would end up paying it, as written. As Kohl-Welles says on her web site, the measure would "impose a state income tax upon Washington's highest wage earners."

However, Washington State's Constitution requires that all taxes on property must be uniform (Article VII, Section 1), and the state's courts have consistently recognized income as property. So this form of tax would likely be stricken as unconstitutional, as it is clearly intended to be non-uniform.

If this bill were passed, and the Court did rule that provision to be unconstitutional, the bill's severability clause means the rest of the bill would remain valid, and it we would then immediately have a tax on every federal income tax payer, instead of just the wealthy.

Thankfully, this bill won't pass this year, but the sneakiness of it is what bothers me. Don't be fooled into thinking Kohl-Welles and her cosponsors don't understand how this would have worked out: they proposed what they knew would likely end up being an income tax on everyone, and sold it as a tax merely "on the highest wage earners."

Kohl-Welles and her buddies explicitly crafted this bill to try to get past the uniformity provision by making an extremely high "standard deduction," and knew full well that if that didn't survive, the severability clause would keep the rest of the bill alive, which means a tax on all of us.

(Thanks to the EFF's Mike Reitz on

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