In 1981, Washington voters overwhelmingly eliminated the state’s death tax. Last year, ignoring the majority who voted against it, the state Legislation and Supreme Court resurrected the death tax.
In addition to the national death tax, this 19-percent state death tax could result in a 70-percent taxation of an estate. This is an unfair, double tax on income, and our tax-and-spend state is trying to live outside its means and pass the costs onto us.
Polling shows two out of three Americans, let alone Washingtonians, believe in death-tax repeal, according to an August 2005 editorial in The Wall Street Journal. Americans build up estates in part so their legacies can be left to their children and grandchildren, not to politicians.
In Washington, this measure is being justified as a way to pay for our schools, and other entitlement programs. In actuality, this is forcing schools to depend on narrow and unreliable funding. Washington voters have also passed initiatives reducing class size and increasing teacher pay, expecting the funding for these programs to come from the general fund revenues. But again, our state Legislation is not listening to its voters.
Any state-imposed death tax in Washington should really be called the “Montana/Idaho Economic Development Act.” Are legislators blind to the fact that many small-business owners and wealthy citizens will just pack up their lives and move to a state without the tax to avoid it?
A 2004 National Bureau of Economic Research study called “Do the Rich Flee From High State Taxes?” found that states lose as many as one-third of their dollars from estate taxes because wealthy, elderly people move to avoid the taxes. Under this new tax, Washington could lose so many wealthy seniors that it may actually lose revenue in the long run. The Northeast is a perfect example of this, declining economically and politically (in terms of electoral votes) over the past 20 years.
It is wrong to tax people’s income twice and put family businesses at risk. Death is traumatic enough for a family without a tax collector in the shadows holding a crippling bill. No one likes to pay taxes, but we all realize it’s a necessity and a “fee” for living in this country. Finding more reasons to tax people just to have more money to spend is wrong. Our state should learn to live within its means and reduce spending.
Vote “yes” on I-920.
Monday, November 06, 2006
"Voters must say ‘no’ to death tax on Tuesday"
Very nice column in support of I-920 in today's Daily Watermelon: