01. February 2024 · Comments Off on Invest in Washington Now – February 1, 2024 · Categories: Announcements

February 1, 2024

In this issue: 

  • Meet the hedge fund manager upending WA politics with 6 ballot initiatives
  • Finally, WA no longer has the nation’s most unfair tax system
  • Washington state’s capital gains tax stands as U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of law
  • World’s first trillionaire just 10 years away as richest men double their wealth
  • The ultra-wealthy’s $8.5 trillion of untaxed income

We’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years in our fight to fix Washington’s upside-down tax code. Together, we passed the capital gains tax, which helped pull us out of our decades-long ranking as the worst tax code in the nation! 

But right now, in Olympia, that progress is under attack. Six initiatives, bankrolled by a single multi-millionaire, have been certified. All of these initiatives would roll back the steps we’ve taken to dismantle decades of inequality. One of them would repeal the capital gains tax, taking nearly $900 million from childcare and education to line the pockets of the super-rich.

These initiatives are just another effort by the ultra-wealthy to rig the system in their favor – at the expense of the rest of us. We’re not backing down, and we need you to join us! It took all of us to make it this far, and it’ll take all of us to protect the progress we’ve made. Sign up today to be a part of our rapid response team to help lead the fight for the fair and just tax code that our state needs!


P.S. – Letters to the editor, like Keep the Capital Gains Tax” from Jeffrey in Liberty Lake, make a huge difference. Your voice matters – when you share your support for a fair tax code, lawmakers pay attention. We’ve made it super easy to send a letter to the editor, so you can share your support too. 

“Pouring more than $6 million of his money into a paid signature-gathering campaign, Brian Heywood has almost single-handedly bankrolled six initiatives that are likely headed to the November ballot. 

The unprecedented initiative slate would eliminate the state’s new capital gains tax, repeal a landmark climate law, allow people to opt out of a long-term care payroll tax, reverse police-pursuit restrictions passed in recent years, ban local and state income taxes, and guarantee parents access to information on K-12 school curricula and medical records. 

Activists have splashed Heywood’s face on an online “Wall of Shame” for his efforts to repeal the new capital gains tax. He’s the ringleader of a small group of a bunch of ultrawealthy people who want to buy tax cuts. In his own mind he might be Robin Hood, but in practice he’s the sheriff of Nottingham, said Aaron Ostrom, executive director of the progressive group Fuse Washington.

Sharon Chen, a former Microsoft program manager who paid the capital gains tax last year, said it’s a step toward fixing the state’s upside down tax structure. I am interested in living in a place that has clean air, clean water, investments in public spaces. All these great things government does, you should pay for it. 

Holly Lindsey, who runs a home-based child care center in Longview, said she fears the consequences if the tax gets repealed. I think it’s sad that he is going after the children and the people who are most vulnerable. Those are the people who are going to be affected.

We are over here celebrating, said the Washington State Budget and Policy Center in Seattle. Washington no longer has the nation’s worst tax code. In 1996, a Washington, D.C. analyst group called the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy put out a ranking of taxes in the 50 states called “Who Pays?” And man, was it embarrassing for Washington’s West Coast progressive self-image.

The state of Washington is the highest-tax state in the entire country for poor people, that 1996 report accused. It was as if Washington’s tax system had been designed by Dr. Evil, with the families struggling the most being hit with nearly five times the effective tax rate as the wealthiest.

The D.C. tax group put out five more editions of its “Who Pays?” report, and each one tapped Washington state as America’s worst — and by a mile. According to the 7th edition of the Who Pays report, out this month, our poorest earners dropped to paying 3.4 times the rate as the top earners. That’s still regressive, but lower now than Florida’s 4.9 times.

The report credits three shifts: the passage in Seattle in 2020 of a progressive payroll tax on high earners, the new state capital gains tax on stock profits, which passed in 2021 and helps pay for schools; and the new state Working Families Tax Credit, also passed in 2021.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a Washington state Supreme Court ruling from March 2023 that found a statewide tax on capital gains to be lawful. 

The tax went into effect in 2022 and brought in nearly $900 million last year, greatly exceeding original projections. The first $500 million collected goes toward education and child care programs, while the remainder is designated for school construction projects. 

Polls show Washingtonians strongly support making the wealthiest pay what they truly owe in taxes for services all of us depend on. When the wealthy pay what they owe, just like the rest of us, our communities are stronger, said Treasure Mackley, executive director of Invest in WA Now.”

“Since 2020, the world’s five richest men have seen their collective wealth more than double. Oxfam calculated that the combined wealth of the five richest billionaires on the planet grew from $405 billion in 2020 to roughly $869 billion today—a rate of $14 million an hour. During that same period, 60% of the global population got poorer.

Under the status quo, global poverty won’t be eradicated for nearly two and a half centuries—but the world will have its first trillionaire within the next 10 years, Oxfam found. Amitabh Behar, Oxfam’s interim executive director, said in a statement: This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else. Every tax dollar dodged is a nurse that will never be hired or a school that cannot be built. 

Runaway corporate and monopoly power is an inequality-generating machine: Through squeezing workers, dodging tax, privatizing the state, and spurring climate breakdown, corporations are funneling endless wealth to their ultra-rich owners, said Behar. But they’re also funneling power. No corporation or individual should have this much power over our economies and our lives—to be clear, nobody should have a billion dollars.

“According to an analysis by American for Tax Fairness of new Federal Reserve data on household income and wealth, America’s billionaires and centi-millionaires (those with at least $100 million of wealth) collectively held at least $8.5 trillion of unrealized capital gains in 2022. These profits from unsold investments constitute the largest source of income for the super-rich. 

The economics of the ultra-rich are becoming increasingly disconnected from those of ordinary American workers. While most Americans predominantly live off the income they earn from a job–income that is taxed all year, every year–the very richest households live lavishly off capital gains that may never be taxed. The ultra-wealthy don’t need to sell to benefit: they can live off low-cost loans secured against their growing fortunes. And once inherited, such gains disappear completely for tax purposes.

Without necessary reform to our system of taxation, the growth of untaxed income at the very top of our economy will continue to accelerate, to the benefit of a tiny few and the detriment of everyone else.”

Join our Rapid Response Team!

Get in Touch Today