Washingtonians strongly support taxing extreme wealth
Washingtonians strongly support taxing extreme wealth (NPI graphic)

Two-thirds of like­ly 2024 vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State sup­port levy­ing a tax on extreme wealth in Wash­ing­ton, with well over fifty per­cent strong­ly sup­port­ive, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s lat­est statewide poll has confirmed.

67% of 874 like­ly vot­ers sur­veyed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling last week for NPI said they sup­port­ed levy­ing a one per­cent wealth tax on Wash­ing­ton res­i­dents whose world­wide wealth exceeds a quar­ter bil­lion dol­lars, to ben­e­fit the state’s essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices, while only 28% were opposed and 5% were not sure.

Washingtonians strongly support taxing extreme wealth
Wash­ing­to­ni­ans strong­ly sup­port tax­ing extreme wealth (NPI graphic)

The find­ing cor­rob­o­rates ear­li­er polling con­duct­ed in Wash­ing­ton by Tar­getS­mart for the State Inno­va­tion Exchange in Decem­ber 2022 — Jan­u­ary 2023.

Tar­getS­mart’s mul­ti­modal sur­vey of 497 adults found that two-thirds of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port imple­ment­ing a wealth tax where the first $250 mil­lion is exempt before any pre­sen­ta­tion of argu­ments for the idea.

It’s also con­sis­tent with NPI’s past wealth tax research.

Dur­ing the pre­vi­ous elec­tion cycle, we repeat­ed­ly asked if vot­ers sup­port levy­ing a tax on bil­lion­aire for­tunes and found enthu­si­as­tic sup­port, despite not spec­i­fy­ing in our ques­tion which par­tic­u­lar ser­vices the rev­enue would be ded­i­cat­ed to.

Our 2021–2022 data showed that vot­ers under­stand our tax code is inequitable and are very recep­tive to ideas to bal­ance it pri­mar­i­ly on fair­ness grounds.

For 2023, we updat­ed our ques­tion to fit the con­tours of the leg­is­la­tion that’s cur­rent­ly before the Leg­is­la­ture: House Bill 1473, prime spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive My-Linh Thai, and Sen­ate Bill 5486, prime spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Noel Frame, both good friends of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

These bills would tax for­tunes of $250 mil­lion or more and allo­cate the rev­enue equal­ly to the Dis­abil­i­ties Care Trust Account, the Edu­ca­tion Lega­cy Trust Account, the Wash­ing­ton Hous­ing Trust Fund, and the Tax­pay­er Jus­tice Account.

Accord­ing­ly, we asked:

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose levy­ing a one per­cent wealth tax on Wash­ing­ton res­i­dents whose world­wide wealth exceeds a quar­ter bil­lion dol­lars, to ben­e­fit pub­lic ser­vices here in our state, such as dis­abil­i­ty ser­vices, hous­ing, and spe­cial education?


  • Sup­port: 67% 
    • Strong­ly: 57%
    • Some­what: 10%
  • Oppose: 28%
    • Some­what: 6%
    • Strong­ly: 22%
  • Not sure: 5%

Our sur­vey of 874 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, March 7th through Wednes­day, March 8th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and online answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

For ref­er­ence, our pre­vi­ous ques­tion, first asked in 2021, was as follows:

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose levy­ing a one per­cent wealth tax on Wash­ing­ton res­i­dents whose world­wide wealth exceeds one bil­lion dol­lars, to ben­e­fit pub­lic ser­vices here in our state?


  • Sup­port: 60% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 50%
    • Some­what sup­port: 10%
  • Oppose: 36%
    • Some­what oppose: 11%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 25%
  • Not sure: 5%

Com­pared to that find­ing, over­all sup­port in response to the 2023 ver­sion of our wealth tax ques­tion is 7% high­er, with all of that growth com­ing in the “strong­ly sup­port” buck­et. Oppo­si­tion, mean­while, is down 8%, for a total increase in net sup­port of 13%. And that’s despite the def­i­n­i­tion of extreme wealth in the ques­tion hav­ing widened from a bil­lion dol­lars to a quar­ter bil­lion dollars.

Through­out NPI’s twen­ty-year his­to­ry, we have empha­sized that there are two sides to every equa­tion, includ­ing the pub­lic finance equa­tion. Essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices require fund­ing. They aren’t free: we have to pool our resources to be able to afford them. That’s why we like to explain the con­nec­tion between a pro­posed rev­enue source and the ser­vices it would ben­e­fit in our sur­veys. Vot­ers need to know about both sides of the equa­tion to offer an informed opinion.

The wealth tax ques­tions above aren’t argu­ments-struc­tured ques­tions (e.g. with pro­po­nents say vs. oppo­nents say fram­ing), but we know from years of ask­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans how they feel about a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy that the right wing’s argu­ments against a cap­i­tal gains tax sim­ply do not res­onate. It seems very unlike­ly that argu­ments against a wealth tax would fare differently.

Wash­ing­ton has been hob­bled for years by an upside down tax code, rat­ed as the most inequitable in the nation by the Insti­tute on Tax­a­tion and Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy (ITEP) for many years. Our schools and many oth­er pub­lic ser­vices have suf­fered due to under­fund­ing — a prob­lem that could be mean­ing­ful­ly addressed if the wealthy were required to start pay­ing their fair share in dues to our great state.

Dur­ing last week’s hear­ing on SB 5486, right wing activists offered a litany of laugh­able argu­ments in oppo­si­tion to the wealth tax, which basi­cal­ly boiled down to, the wealthy deserve their wealth, so how dare you pro­pose this leg­is­la­tion?

It was par­tic­u­lar­ly amus­ing to hear com­plaints that the wealth tax was a vehi­cle for “wealth redis­tri­b­u­tion.” I had the priv­i­lege of clos­ing out the pub­lic hear­ing as the final per­son to offer remarks, and I point­ed out to leg­is­la­tors that a mas­sive redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth has already tak­en place and is still occurring.

“Unless you’re liv­ing under a rock, you have to have noticed that wealth redis­tri­b­u­tion is already hap­pen­ing. We’ve been see­ing income inequal­i­ty widen for decades,” I told the Sen­ate Ways & Means Com­mit­tee. “And we know that one of the great ways to equal­ize — to cre­ate a bet­ter, just, more pros­per­ous soci­ety — is for wealth to be invest­ed in the form of tax­es. They are invest­ments. It is patri­ot­ic to be a tax­pay­er and pay your dues. And it’s time for extreme wealth in Wash­ing­ton to be invest­ed in the essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices that the peo­ple need.”

Vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton agree — emphat­i­cal­ly — as our research shows.

It was only a days ago that Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors dropped plans to pro­vide no-cost school meals to all pupils in Wash­ing­ton because of “mon­ey,” to quote State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­cus Ric­cel­li, a pro­po­nent of the idea.

That sor­ry devel­op­ment was a fresh reminder that our schools are under­fund­ed and we need to raise rev­enue to ful­ly them — a state­ment that a major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers have told us they agree with for the bet­ter part of a decade.

By levy­ing a wealth tax, we can mean­ing­ful­ly address the spe­cial edu­ca­tion fis­cal cri­sis while also rais­ing fund­ing for dis­abil­i­ties care and hous­ing… and devote fur­ther resources to bal­anc­ing our tax code. Wash­ing­ton would win on all counts.

A tax on extreme wealth that ben­e­fits spe­cial edu­ca­tion, dis­abil­i­ties care, and hous­ing is pre­cise­ly the kind of pro­gres­sive change that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans vot­ed for in the 2022 midterms and want to see from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic House and Sen­ate that they elect­ed. Our polling is fresh proof of that. Let’s get it done!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts