The purpose of this paper is to assemble an argument in support of Washington State adopting a progressive state income tax.
What is the problem that you are trying to solve?
I am a math teacher with 9 years of math teaching experience at Tacoma Schools in Washington State. I taught math for Tacoma from 1990 to 1999. As the result of graduate study at the University of Washington 2000 - 2001, and as the result of my teaching experience today I am an advocate for better funding for all K-12 schools in Washington State. After the failure of I-1098 in 2010, I began to do some research on the subject of the Washington State tax system itself. Today I support Legislative action that would lead to passage of a bill that supports a progressive state income tax.
There are many indicators that point to the need for increased funding for Washington State's K-12 public school classrooms and for the entire State itself. Due to hurricanes, drought, and forest fires, many families are moving to Washington State.
Because of this ongoing increase in the State's population and at the same time cuts in funding for many years at the Department of Social and Health Services, there are many homeless families and homeless students in Washington State.
The goal of many different groups in Washington State is to give all students a chance by enabling them to attend public schools. Inside of these schools they want to increase positive student academic performance. The third indicator that I choose to look at was class size. I knew from my math teaching experience at Tacoma Schools that students achievement would be higher if they get more individualized help from their teachers. In other words their academic achievement would be higher if their class size was smaller. In 2007-2008 a survey was completed by the National Center for Education Statistics. (1) The following summary is from that research effort:
Washington State was 46th in an Elementary class size comparison.
Washington State was 45th in a Secondary class size comparison.
A fourth indictor for the need for much better funding for Education in Washington State is the student's scores on standardized tests. The following is current student test scores published by Washington State OSPI for Federally mandated tests for the 2016-2017 school year. This is called the "Washington State Report Card" by OSPI (2)
Another fifth indicator of the need for better funding for all programs funded by Washington State can be found in a report published by the Washington State Treasurer's Office. Each year the Washington State Treasurer publishes a “Debt Affordability Study.” This year’s study says that "At the end of 2016, Washington's debt portfolio stood at $20.6 billion." (3) The same State that is home to Costco, Microsoft, Amazon, PACCAR, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Weyerhaeuser is deeply in debt.
What is the proposed solution?
The focus of this website is to advocate for change in Washington State: Specifically that the Legislature agree to support adoption of a progressive income tax in Washington State. All of individuals, families, businesses, and corporations would participate in helping the Washington State Government by supporting passage of a progressive state income tax.
"A progressive tax is a tax where the tax rate increases as your income increases. The United States currently has a progressive income tax that requires higher income citizens to pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes. Taxpayers are divided into categories based on income levels." (4)
If individuals, families, and corporations worked together to achieve this change in how the State obtains revenue, they could at the same time deduct the amount that they pay in State income taxes, from their taxable income when calculating Federal Income taxes. (5)
In November of 2002, the Washington State Tax Structure Study Committee met and completed a thorough study of the Washington State Tax system. This report can be found on the internet today. (6) Appendix H of this report contains the Committee's recommendations.
A graduated or progressive state income tax has a significant advantage over property taxes. Property taxes are not progressive. Progressive state income taxes enable each of the rich to become a philanthropist to help students and the poor. A progressive state income tax has an advantage over sales taxes. In order to deduct a sales tax hours of office time must be spent and meticulous record must be kept to find the total of all sales taxes paid. This would not be true for a progressive state income tax.
(1) "Schools and Staffing Survey," National Center for Educational Statistics, 2007-2008
(2) "Washington State Report Card," Washington State OSPI, Sep. 2017
(3). "Debt Affordability Study, 2017", James McIntire, Treasurer, Washington State Treasurer's Office, Dec. 2016
(4) Definition, "Progressive income tax, Pros and Cons," Study.com/academy/lessson/
(5) Topic 503, Deductible Taxes, https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc503.html
(6) "Tax Alternatives for Washington State, A Report to the Legislature,"