Washington tax activists — including the father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates — are borrowing a page from Oregon.
They announced a campaign Wednesday to put a high-earners' income tax on the fall ballot. Oregon voters approved a similar measure earlier this year.
Washington doesn't currently have an income tax. But Initiative 1077 would impose one on couples who earn more than $400,000 a year while at the same time cutting property and business taxes.
The money raised would be earmarked for education and healthcare.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown is a vocal advocate of taxing higher-earners. She says the state income tax would be a federal tax write-off.
Lisa Brown: “The millionaires and billionaires in Washington State right now pay taxes, but they pay Uncle Sam in Washington, DC and this would give them the opportunity to have more of those dollars stay here at home for our universities and schools.”
Opponents challenge the constitutionality of a high-earners tax. They also make a slippery slope argument – warning that all Washingtonians could eventually be asked to pay the state income tax.
Supporters must gather more than 240,000 valid voter signatures by the beginning of July to qualify for the ballot.