Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Most Washingtonians would lose out with Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033

If voters swim against the rising tide of opposition to Tim Eyman’s wealth transfer scheme, Initiative 1033, and actually approve it, there will be definite winners and losers. Unfortunately, most voters will fall into the losing category.

The winner’s circle will be fairly small and it will probably include some folks you already recognize: the owners of your local mall, shopping center or business park, or of the multi-million dollar home on the lake. This is because all revenue over the arbitrary growth limit imposed by I-1033 would be returned to property holders in a way that’s proportional to their property’s value. That is, with wealthy property owners receiving the largest chunks.

That would make the rest of us the losers. Not only would we lose out on the almost six billion dollars worth of state services that this lost revenue would provide, like education, public safety and health care, but most homeowners would see only a pittance returned to them. And renters would get nothing.

Here's how Eyman's proposal would work. Sales tax and property tax would still becollected and combined in the general fund (six times more sales tax is collected than property tax), but then what the initiative would consider “excess revenue” would be redistributed in the form of a special tax cut. Wealthy property owners would get the biggest payouts. And renters? Again, if you rent an apartment, you would see nothing. Nadda. You would pay sales tax, but you wouldn’t receive any payout, however small. How’s that for fair?

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2003, thirty six percent of housing units in Washington were occupied by renters. That means that a huge percentage of taxpayers would be ripped off.

On top of the injustice of the measure, the premise that it is based on, the idea that Washingtonians pay too much property tax, is false. Most of us, according to public opinion research, don't object to paying a reasonable amount for good schools and the other crucial services my government provides.

The conservative Tax Foundation ranks our state twenty fifth highest in the nation in state and local property tax collections. But when the facts are inconvenient...

Voters should see through this scheme to take from our communities and give to the wealthy. Most of us would gain nothing but what we could lose is staggering: adequately funded schools, courts, hospitals and libraries.

Washington will win if another ill-conceived Eyman idea is defeated, otherwise we could turn out to be big losers.


Blogger Steve Zemke said...

Property taxes also need to be put in the context of total state and local tax burden. Because we have no state incoome tax while 43 other states do, we actually rank in the bottom third of states in overall state and local tax burden. We rank 35th (with 1 being the highest).

Other pecularities include the fact that we rank 8th highest in terms of income per capita and first in terms of sales taxes.

It is good that you are helping to get these facts out there about who wins and loses with I-1033 because so often decisions are made on perceptions and misrepresentations which don't match the facts.

Tim Eyman for example in the State Voter's Pamphlet claims that we are the eighth highest taxes state in the country. What he doesn't tell people with this misrepresentation as it applies to I-1033 is that he includes Federal income taxes in the calculation.

Two facts to note regarding this. First we also have the 8th highest income per capita. Second, I-1033 only deals with state and local taxes and has nothing to do with people's Federal income taxes.

But to Tim 8th sounds so much worse than the Tax Foundation's ranking of 35th he uses it anyway. So much for truth and integrity on Tim's part.

October 10, 2009 9:47 AM  

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