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taxes

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Ross Reynolds interviews reporter Ben Markus of Colorado Public Radio about Colorado proposition that would help answer a question that both Colorado and Washington state have been struggling with: How do you tax and regulate recreational marijuana?

Boeing 777x prototype
Boeing handout

Boeing’s announcement that much of the detailed design work on the 777X jetliner will take place outside Washington state is a play for better tax incentives, according to a top aviation analyst.

Flickr Photo/Drewski2112

A 440-foot superyacht named Serene is approaching a deadline date with Washington’s tax authorities.

If it cruises through that deadline by staying longer than 60 days, its owners will have to pay 10 percent of the yacht’s value, which is $30 million. 

It was the legislative equivalent of a buzzer beater. Just as the Washington legislature was about to adjourn last month, the House and Senate quickly passed a series of tax breaks mostly for businesses. They included exemptions for dance clubs, mint growers, dairy products and this one: digital data used by international investment firms.

That last one will largely benefit a single global firm – Seattle-based Russell Investments. This tax break passed despite efforts to close these kinds of loopholes.

A proposal to raise Washington’s gas tax by 10.5 cents to fund transportation projects has failed in the state House. Supporters Wednesday came up one vote short. But they vow to try again.

The transportation revenue package would raise $10 billion for maintenance and preservation of existing roads and to fund new projects. The proposal calls for a 6 cent gas tax increase this summer followed by another 4.5 cent increase next July.

There were dramatic developments in Olympia overnight. Governor Jay Inslee held a midnight bill signing to amend Washington’s estate tax. The move means the Department of Revenue will not begin to issue refund checks Friday morning to the heirs of some multi-million dollar estates.

The state of Washington was about to embark on a months-long process of refunding an estimated $140 million to more than 100 estates. This was the result of a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year. The money would have come out of a fund dedicated to public schools.

Flickr photo/Ratha Grimes

 Paying Internet Sales Tax
The Senate voted on Monday on a bill that would end tax-free Internet shopping. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias joins us with a look at the Marketplace Fairness Act and who’s behind the push to collect taxes on your online purchases.

A Conversation With Early Television Actor Jan Merlin
Jan Merlin starred in early television shows like Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and The Rough Riders. He went on to be an Emmy-winning script writer.  He grew to love the escape that theater and film could provide after a profound World War II experience.

New Music Recommendation
Are you stuck in a music listening rut?  We are surrounded by new music and innovative artists. Music blogger Liz Riley Tollefson recommends Drai Zich by The Heligoats, Rotting On The Vine by The Purrs, Inside An Aquarium by BOAT and Buzz, Buzz, Buzz by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers.

The Weather And Hike Of The Week
It has been hot outside. Michael Fagin suggests a hike that matches this week’s weather forecast.

Governor Jay Inslee is like the gambler. He says it would take an “inside straight” for the legislature to complete its work by Sunday’s deadline. 

Should The IRS Do Our Taxes For Us?

Apr 15, 2013
Flickr Photo/401(K) 2013

Today is the deadline for filing your taxes, and maybe you’re a little burnt out on the whole process. The New York Times reports that Americans spend 9.14 billion hours on government paperwork every year. Of that time 75 percent, or 6.7 billion hours, is spent on documents from The Treasury Department. According to author and law professor, Cass Sunstein, it’s because the Treasury Department houses the Internal Revenue Service, which takes up way too much of our time during tax season. Sunstein was head of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009-2012, and he wrote a recent op-ed article for the New York Times on this topic. Ross Reynolds talks with Sunstein and asks if the IRS is wasting our time.

There's a new reason to file your taxes early next year: you might thwart an identity thief.

Identity thieves have used stolen information to beat victims to their tax filings. They file false reports, get large refunds and create a mess for the real taxpayer.

Who Will Drink The Cost Of Ending The Washington Brewer-Tax Exemption?

Apr 12, 2013
Flickr Photo/Atilla Kefeli

It’s that time of year when we talk about forecasts -- no, not the weather forecast, though we do have our fingers crossed for warmer weather. The Governor, the House and the Senate have all released their budget proposals and if the Governor or the House gets their way Washington brewers could be hit hard. The Governor’s budget would end a tax exemption for local brewers and increase the tax per barrel of beer sold in Washington state from $4.78 to $20.28. The House proposal wouldn’t hit brewers quite as hard but the tax paid per barrel would still be doubled. How would these proposed plans impact the micro-beer business and consumers? According to the president of the Washington Brewers Guild, quite a bit. Ross Reynolds talks with Heather McClung, president of the Washington Brewers Guild and the co-founder of the Seattle brewery Schooner Exact.

An obscure tax code provision crafted for drug dealers is giving state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries a headache.

In Colorado, federal income tax rates for dispensaries can soar as high as 70 percent because of a tax code section that does not allow businesses to claim certain deductions.

The section is known as 280E, and it was originally written for illegal drug traffickers. But today it's a thorn in the side of licensed dispensary owners like Erica Freeman.

Why Does Amazon Support Online Sales Taxes?

Apr 2, 2013
AP Photo/Scott Sady

It's rare that you get Republicans and Democrats agreeing on taxes, but that's what's happening in the other Washington and it might impact us here in the evergreen state.

The tax bill known as the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 would require Internet retailers who make more than $1 million in sales annually to collect sales taxes even if the retailer isn't physically located in that state.

How To Avoid An Audit And Other Tax Advice From The IRS

Mar 26, 2013
Flickr Photo/Paul Stumpr

Next month taxes are due and many Americans find themselves waiting until the last minute to file. Two IRS agents discuss tax dos and don'ts with Ross Reynolds. 

Is It Time To End Oil Subsidies?

Mar 21, 2013
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore

While policymakers debate the government’s budget, the Brookings Institute, a private nonprofit research organization, decided to host their own brainstorming session. They asked experts from all different fields to submit ideas for responsible deficit reduction.

One expert, Harvard professor Joseph Aldy, drafted a proposal eliminating oil and gas tax subsidies. A move Aldy estimates would save the US government $41 billion over 10 years.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Hopes for a rosier budget outlook in Washington are dimming. Expected savings in Medicaid haven’t materialized. And many state lawmakers expect this week’s quarterly revenue forecast to show a downward slide. Add to that, a Supreme Court ruling that requires more funding for schools.

In response, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce soon a list of tax “loopholes” – as he calls them – he wants to eliminate to fund schools. But closing tax exemptions is easier said than done.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

On a recent night at El Centro de la Raza, in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, undocumented workers show up with folders of paperwork. They’ve come to this Latino-focused non-profit to get help with their tax returns.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Raising taxes in Washington just got a whole lot easier. The state Supreme Court Thursday threw out the requirement that tax increases muster a two-thirds vote of the legislature. Democrats say the ruling will allow more options as lawmakers grapple with ongoing budget woes. But Republicans vow to uphold the will of voters who have repeatedly supported a high bar for tax hikes.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes is a personal defeat for initiative activist Tim Eyman. Over the years, he sponsored three of the five ballot measures that enacted the supermajority rule.

Outside the Capitol after the ruling, reporters noted that Eyman seemed more subdued than defiant.

The Washington Supreme Court threw out the voter passed initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass higher taxes. The supermajority law has had a heavy influence on state government for 30 years. Ross Reynolds talks to lawmakers and lawyers about what this decision means for politics in Washington state.

House Democrats Want To Rev Up The Gas Tax

Feb 22, 2013

House Democrats are proposing to raise the gas tax by 10 cents, to 47.5 cents a gallon, within five years, to pay for a $10 billion transportation package. The plan was introduced earlier this week by State Representative Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, who chairs the House Transportation Committee. 

Ross Reynolds talks to Clibborn and  Sen. Tim Sheldon, a Democrat representing the 35th District, which includes all of Mason County and parts of Thurston, Kitsap and Grays Harbor counties.  He’s one of two Senate Democrats to join with Republicans to form a majority coalition this legislative session.

Portland General Electric

Keeping up with transportation infrastructure isn’t cheap. The Washington State Transportation Commission estimates that in the next 20 years around 200 billion dollars needs to be put towards the maintenance of roads, ferries and more. But how to pay for that? Some are putting forward the idea of a tax on carbon emissions.

Read the whole story on KUOW’s Earthfix

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Outgoing Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is proposing to extend two temporary taxes for three-and-a-half years in order to make a $1 billion down payment on a recent Supreme Court ruling that found the state is not adequately funding public schools. Much of that new money would go to reduce K-2 class sizes, speed up the phase-in of all-day kindergarten and help districts with basic operating and maintenance costs.

"We're building a budget assuming everybody works their problems out in the best interest of the nation." That's how Stan Marshburn, outgoing director of Washington State's Office of Financial Management is planning for the fiscal cliff.

He says we're likely to suffer either way. If we go over the cliff, we can expect 50 percent cut to state military spending. To avoid the cliff, federal lawmakers might agree to reduce Medicaid spending -- another precious source of federal money.

Marshburn tells Ross his biggest concern is consumer confidence, since Washington gets so much of its money from sales tax.  He says reduced consumer spending could impact Washington's economy 10 times more than the actual fiscal cliff itself.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Cyber Monday was expected to generate $1.5 billion in internet sales nationwide. That’s great for on-line retailers, but not so good for tax coffers in states like Washington and Idaho. That’s because many cyber retailers still don’t collect sales tax. And Congress is unlikely to close that loophole anytime soon.

Flickr Photo/Paul Stumpr

President Barack Obama is meeting today with members of Congress to try to avoid the fiscal cliff.  The president says he’ll let Bush-era tax cuts for families earning over $250,000 a year expire.  House Republicans are opposed.

Seattle ​entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer would pay more if the tax cuts expire and he thinks he should. Ross Reynolds speaks with Hanauer, business owner Mark Peterson, and policy analysts Mark Guppy and Marilyn Watkins, and he asks listeners to weigh in with their opinion: Are the rich taxed enough?

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