Why is Washington State’s revenue system ranked the least fair in the nation?

screenshot-2015-01-14-11-15-00Washington State’s archaic revenue system is considered the most “unfair” in the nation. Those with the most pay less than their fair share, while the rest of us pay more. As reported in the New York Times, Washington is at the top of the list of “Terrible 10” because compared to the richest Washingtonians, the people who can least afford it pay a much higher portion of their incomes in state and local taxes that fund schools, health care, public safety, and other investments that create jobs and promote a strong state economy. The people who can least afford it contribute the most into our revenue system, meaning most of us are picking up the tab for the wealthiest few. The burden is even greater on communities of color, who pay a disproportionate portion of Washington’s state and local taxes.

“Washington’s tax system is the most regressive in the nation, placing a disproportionate burden on those with the lowest incomes.” – TIME Magazine

> Resources
  • Click here for a fact sheet on Washington’s tax system from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Click here for a report on our tax system’s impact on communities of color from the Washington Budget & Policy Center.

What parts of Washington State’s revenue system contribute to the problem?

According to experts, Washington State’s outdated revenue system has many problems including:

> Resources
  • Click here for a fact sheet on Washington’s tax system from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Click here to see 3 charts on Washington’s outdated tax system from the State Office of Financial Management

How much more revenue does Washington State need to fund basic services?

Even with projected growth in revenues, we will fall $3 billion short of the amount needed to adequately fund schools, health care, child care, and other important investments in the next two years, according to new projections from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Committee. The last half-decade of cuts means millions of Washingtonians already are forced to delay retirement, send children to overcrowded classrooms, sit on long waiting lists for health services, and pay more for everything from college tuition to visiting our State Parks with our families.

> Resources
  • Click here for more information of Washington’s budget shortfall from the Washington Policy & Budget Center.
  • Click here to see the proposed 2015 – 2017 budget overview from the State Office of Financial Management
  • Learn more about specific impacts.

How do we raise enough revenue to pay for basic services without making the situation worse?

We need fair, accountable and shared revenue sources that are stable and sufficient. Fair revenue sources ensure that everyone pays her or his share. Fair revenue sources do not worsen Washington State’s disproportionate tax responsibilities on small businesses and hard-working Washingtonians. Other states, such as Oregon, Vermont, Delaware and California, have much more fair revenue systems according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.

“Oregonians have it much better than they imagine when it comes to taxes, while Washington residents ought to be rebelling.” Daily Astorian

> Resources
  • Click here to learn more about current revenue proposals.
  • Click here to learn more about what is fair, accountable and shared.

Learn more about 2015 Revenue Proposals

Learn more about the impacts of Washington’s budget crisis

Learn more about Washington United for Fair Revenue