“The fight over what would be Washington’s first state income tax since 1933 is shaping up as a battle of the titans: Both [Bill Gates’ 84-year-old father, William Gates Sr.], a prominent retired lawyer and philanthropist, and his son, the richest man in America, are backing I-1098. But three of the state’s other biggest businessmen, current Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and John Nordstrom of the Seattle-based retail chain â are throwing big money into the campaign to defeat it,” Kim Murphy reports for The Los Angeles Times. “Washington voters are being asked to endorse a tax philosophy that is in many ways similar to President Obama’s approach to shrinking the federal deficit: Keep the tax burden off low- and middle-income families while raising taxes on the wealthy.”
Murphy reports, “The ballot measure would raise about $2 billion a year for education and healthcare by taxing gross income above $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, while trimming other taxes for small businesses and property owners… But Washington, one of only seven states with no income tax, has made its tax-free status an important selling point in attracting new business.”
“Opponents warn that new taxes on well-off entrepreneurs would make it harder to recruit talented employees and would eat into business owners’ ability to reinvest, raise wages and create new jobs,” Murphy reports. “‘As a former Microsoft employee, I absolutely know it would damage Microsoft’s ability to compete. Part of their ability to attract talent from all over the world is because there’s no state income tax here,’ said Scott Stanzel, a former deputy White House press secretary under President George W. Bush and a public relations manager for the software company who now is running the campaign to defeat I-1098.”
Murphy reports, “Opponents fear that the proposed tax - 5% on income above $200,000, 9% above $500,000 - could plunge Washington into the same economic traumas being experienced in states like California. ‘Don’t Calitaxicate Washington,’ the Seattle Times urged in an editorial opposing the measure, which polls show is a tossup. They also warn it may not be a tax only on the rich for long. The initiative allows the Legislature to change its terms two years after passage. ‘What is billed as a high-earners tax is simply a backdoor way of extending an income tax to all Washingtonians in the future,’ Stanzel said.”
Read more in the full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]