Washington not the “fourth highest taxed state” in the nation

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Tim Eyman today sent out an email to supporters and the media claiming that Washington State is the “4th highest taxed state in the nation”.:

Washington is the 4th highest taxed state in the nation. That means that 46 other states are providing education, transportation, and other government services at a lower tax burden than Washington does.

The problem with this argument is that it’s just not true. We’ve been through this before: Washington is not the “4th highest taxed state in the nation”. It’s a myth!

Yet Tim Eyman continues to repeat these bogus rankings to the media in the hopes that his misinformation will find its way into articles and broadcasts. The number Eyman uses has changed over the last few years, but it’s always stayed under 10 – and it always will. It sounds persuasive, until you pull back the curtain and check the math.

Fortunately, there is more credible and reputable information available from the Washington State Department of Revenue. In 2004 the DOR released a report entitled, “Comparative State and Local Taxes 2002“, compiled by Revenue Analysis Manager Don Taylor.

The report found that Washington State actually ranks 32nd in the nation when the comparative state and local taxes of each state across the country are checked as a percentage of personal income. The report found that residents of New York are the most highly taxed, while residents of Tennessee are the least.

When historical trends are examined, (except for a brief anomalous dip in the early 1980’s) the average amount of taxes paid is currently at a forty year low, and has been trending consistently down since 1996. When total state and local taxes are examined, they have actually declined as a percentage of personal income, to a point below historic levels and national averages.

Republicans like Tim Eyman often like to pretend that taxes are a terrible burden and should always be lowered. But in reality, taxes are public investments which make our communities safe, healthy, and livable. Quality police and fire protection, a robust parks and recreation system, strong schools and libraries, transportation infrastructure that’s safe and uncongested – these are all public services that cost money. Simply put, government at all levels – local, state, and federal – has made many wise investments with taxpayer money.

Rather than destroying needed revenues for important services provided by the government, we should reorganize our tax structure so that people are paying their fair share. Though Washington State is not a highly taxed state, the system is still regressive, and as a result, middle and lower income families are paying more then they should – while big businesses and wealthy Washingtonians enjoy exemption after exemption and tax break after tax break.

We need tax reform, but what Tim Eyman offers is not reform. It’s not practical, it’s not healthy, and it will not not benefit Washington taxpayers and their families.

Initiative 917 is a threat to the sustainable future of our state… and Permanent Defense will fight to ensure that it is defeated just as I-912 was last November.

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