August 19th, 2004
New report discredits Eyman’s claims
Rethinking and Reframing
A new report released by the Department of Revenue has just discredited initiative profiteer Tim Eyman’s claims that taxes are skyrocketing and out of control.
Indeed, the report found that Washington State’s tax burden has been declining since 1981- just the opposite of what Tim Eyman continues to claim.
Eyman tried to dismiss the report, calling it “election-year politics”. But it’s Eyman, and not the state Department of Revenue, who has skewed statistics.
Eyman tries to take the total amount of revenue collected each year by the state and stack it up in ever-increasing bars on a graph, then point to it and say that property taxes are obscene and uncontrollable.
But you can’t measure property tax growth, or any kind of tax growth, by looking at the dollar amount collected each year. Any smart economist can tell you right away that Eyman’s method of looking at tax growth is extremely distorted.
Tax growth is best measured against personal income. This accounts for factors such as inflation and population growth- factors essential for a correct calculation.
The Department of Revenue’s new report measures tax growth against personal income, and finds that Washington is not the first, second, third, or fourth highest taxed state in the nation.
We rank 32nd in the nation in the new report (from 1998-2002) in comparative state and local taxes. And our tax burden has been on the decline since 1981.
That’s hardly “obscene” tax growth. When it comes to taxes, Washington is actually in the upper tier of states- states with a lower tax burden.
And having a lower tax burden isn’t always a great thing, because taxes pay for essential public services. Without enough revenue, the quality of those services can be degraded.
It’s clear that Tim Eyman’s rhetoric about skyrocketing and obscene property taxes is useless hype. No wonder, though, that Tim Eyman doesn’t want voters to believe this report. If they do, it will give them no reason to vote for his initiatives.
If his initiatives are voted down, Tim makes no money. It’s somehow in his best interest, then, to keep the lies coming and the fabrication machine on full spin.
Washington’s voters deserve to know the truth, not the spin, about property tax growth in this state. And clearly they’re not going to get that from Tim Eyman.