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  • Writer's pictureJulie Bragonier

There is profit in confusion

There is an old saying: “there is profit in confusion.”

That’s absolutely the case with taxes. Did you know we pay over 50 different kinds of taxes collected by over 1,800 taxing districts at the state and local levels? I’m quite sure the average person has no idea what they are paying, to whom they are paying, or why they are paying it. An average home could be in as many as 10 taxing districts.

If we want to promote governmental accountability of our dollars, let’s start by bringing it all into daylight. Let’s pass a law requiring each taxing entity to report what they tax and how much they tax it.

Further, they should provide an annual statement of their goals for the upcoming year and results from the previous year. Then, let’s put it on a web page and make it public. Heck, we may even get some tax relief as these taxing entities begin competing with one another. Worst case, we'd at least know what we are paying and to who.

We pay over 50 different kinds of taxes at the state and local levels. The biggest are regressive taxes which take a higher percentage from low income earners than from high income earners: sales tax; property tax; and Business and Occupation tax. Another is the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET).

Here are a few facts, and a few of my thoughts, about taxes in our community.

  • Did you know that for the MVET, officials still use an inflated value of your car to determine your car tab fees? Additionally, and this goes to show you how much power Seattle politicians have in Olympia, they diverted $518 million from schools to Sound Transit. Did you even know about that?

  • Increasing property taxes actually hurts the elderly, the poor and the first-time home buyer because it is a larger percentage of their income they’re paying in taxes. Combine recent tax increases with home values rising rapidly, property taxes are skyrocketing for our elderly neighbors.

  • Rather than increase regressive taxes, lets improve management and accountability of the taxes we already collect.

  • No state income tax. Ever. We should tax consumption, not productivity.

  • We need transparency. With over 1,800 taxing entities in Washington. Individuals don’t know what they pay. A single home could be in as many as 10 of these districts. What if we required each taxing district to report their rates to the state annually and then published that information with an online calculator everyone could use? The worst that could happen is that people actually get an idea of what they are paying, to who, and how much.

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