OLYMPIA – After hours of debate and 15 rejected amendments from the Republican Party, the Washington Senate voted narrowly to pass a tax on capital gains. The 25 to 24 vote was closer than normal because four Democrats joined the GOP minority to vote against it.
Income taxes have been unconstitutional in Washington since 1932. Since 1934, voters have rejected attempts to enact an income tax 10 times. If Senate Bill 5096 passes the House of Representatives and is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, voters will have to mount a challenge against it. The GOP proposed sending it straight to the November ballot as a referendum, but that was rejected.
“The lack of an income tax is a key reason for Washington’s economic prosperity,” Sen. Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick), the deputy senate GOP leader, said. “We are fortunate to be one of the few states where tax revenue has increased since the start of the pandemic. An income tax on capital gains is not only unnecessary; it would completely destroy Washington’s advantage in attracting and growing businesses in our state and maintaining the jobs they create.”
If it becomes law, the tax could also be the subject of a Washington Supreme Court challenge.