taxes | KUOW News and Information


In January, the Washington state Senate adopted a rule requiring that new taxes pass the Senate by a two-thirds vote. Monday Lt. Governor Brad Owen tossed it out.

Owen said the super majority threshold runs afoul of the state constitution. Owen pointed to a 2013 Washington Supreme Court ruling that overturned a voter-approved super majority requirement for tax hikes.

The Republican-led Washington Senate Monday approved a nearly 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase phased in over three years.

Oregon lawmakers are considering a possible hike in the gas tax this session. Supporters say it's needed in order to offset stagnant revenues due to more fuel efficient vehicles.

In Olympia, legislative budget writers got a shot of good news Friday regarding tax collections.

A bipartisan group of Washington state senators is backing an 11.7 cent gas tax increase over three years.

When voters in four U.S. states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — approved recreational marijuana sales, part of the appeal was the promise of a new revenue source to buoy cash-strapped cities and states.

But tensions are growing in those four states over how the tax rewards from pot sales should be divided. Local governments want to get what they say is their share of pot tax revenue.

The taxman cometh, and tax preparers are anxiously getting ready to deal with new rules that have kicked in because of the Affordable Care Act.

Under the Affordable Care Act, there are new forms, along with new questions for people who have – and don’t have – health insurance.

Have electric cars been on the market long enough to stand on their own without public subsidies?

Gas prices have plummeted, but Washington’s gas tax could soon go up.

What Happened This Week? Thanks For Asking

Jan 16, 2015
Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch watches the closing moments of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 21, 2014.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

An engineer said “catastrophic failure” in the same breath as “Bertha” – what does that mean? Washington state has America's most regressive tax system, is that about to change? Should Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch have to talk to the media if he doesn’t want to? And if you weren’t born in the Pacific Northwest, can you ever truly fit in?

Ross Reynolds talks with Meg Wiehie, state policy director for the Institute on Taxation and Economic policy, about their yearly ranking of regressive tax systems. Reynolds also speaks with Paul Guppy, vice president of research for the Washington Policy Center, who gives another take on the ranking.

Marcie Sillman talks to Hugh Spitzer, University of Washington law professor, about the constitutionality of the Senate Republicans' rule change for bringing new taxes to a vote on the full Senate floor.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants a new capital gains tax to help fund schools and other priorities. But Republicans in the state Senate voted Monday to make it harder to get a tax proposal like that through the legislature.

Is Inslee's Carbon Tax Dead On Arrival?

Jan 12, 2015
Governor Jay Inslee.
Flickr Photo/GovInslee (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with KUOW's Olympia corespondent Austin Jenkins about the politics around the carbon tax and other issues facing the state legislature this session. 

School funding, a roads-and-transit package and medical marijuana are among the hot topics as the Washington legislature convenes Monday.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is defending his call for higher taxes in 2015. The Democrat reacted Thursday to criticism from Republican lawmakers.

Washington voters would prefer no new taxes and no deep cuts to state services. But if that’s not possible, they’re open to some new taxes.

Some cities and counties around the Northwest are tightening up local rules on businesses that sell e-cigarettes. And shop owners in Washington state are bracing for a tax fight at the legislature in 2015.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said Thursday, "it is time to reinvest in Washington." He proposed that the state adopt a new capital-gains tax to help fund a $39 billion two-year budget that would prioritize education, union-negotiated pay raises for state employees, and avoid what the Democratic governor calls “devastating” cuts to corrections, higher education and social services.

To raise taxes, or not raises taxes? That is the question. Washington Democrats have been hinting at yes. Republicans like Senate budget chair Andy Hill say it’s a last resort.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned of tax season chaos if Congress fails to pass a series of breaks by the end of November. The so-called tax extenders include everything from deductions for school teachers who buy classroom supplies to faster depreciation for business equipmentent.

Flickr Photo/victoriabernal (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich about whether Seattle's $15 an hour minimum wage will work in lessening economic inequality, and how Washington's tax system burdens the poor more than the rich.

Washington State Taxes Poor Harder Than Rich

Sep 24, 2014

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Marilyn Watkins, policy director at the Economic Opportunity Institute, and Paul Guppy, vice president for research at the Washington Policy Center, about how Washington state should amend its tax policy to be fair and competitive.

In a manner of speaking, millions of dollars of "drug money" is starting to flow into Washington state coffers.

Flickr Photo/John Biehler (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

Seattle’s Prop 1 is ahead 52.4 to 47.6 percent in Tuesday’s primary election totals. The measure would change the way park maintenance is funded. Supporters promise parks that are better maintained; opponents say accountability will be the challenge.

A Pack Of Smokes Might Get Pricier

May 16, 2014
Flickr Photo/Valerie Everett (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Sandeep Kaushik, spokesperson for the initiative that is looking at increasing the tax on tobacco by $1 in order to fund a cancer prevention program.

Flickr Photo/Canadian Pacific

UPDATE: 4/25/14, 4:15 p.m. PT.

Votes are still being tallied, but King County voters so far are rejecting Proposition 1. That almost certainly means cuts to buses.

A new Seattle-only initiative will try to save buses inside city limits. A group called Friends of Transit said it filed the initiative with the Seattle City Clerk's Office Friday.

Technically, consumers are supposed to pay taxes on things they buy online. In fact, few do.

Congress is considering a bill called the Marketplace Fairness Act that would force many online sellers to collect sales taxes for the first time.

In the meantime, some states have already enacted so-called Amazon taxes, forcing the giant online retailer to collect sales taxes the same way traditional brick-and-mortar stores do.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Low-income transit passengers say the last few years have been difficult in King County with multiple fare increases and the end of the ride free zone in Seattle. But they are torn about whether to support Proposition 1, which would raise taxes in order to maintain existing Metro transit service.

Flickr Photo/West Annex News (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempt to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court of Canada and cross-border shoppers getting a break on their purchases.