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Washington State Considers Mystery Tax Bill

1 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

Amber Gunn of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center report on shadowy things afoot in Olympia:

SB 6853 was introduced today and also scheduled for a public hearing today at 1:30 in the Senate Ways and Means CommitteeThe Committee on Ways and Means, more commonly referred to as the House Ways and Means Committee, is one of 29 U.S. House of Representative committees and is the chief tax-writing committee in the U.S. The House Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over all bills relating to taxes and other revenue generation, as well as spending programs like Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, among others. .

The bill is titled “Relating to creating the legislative review of taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. preferences act of 2010.” It has only one section and it looks like this:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. This act shall be known and cited as the legislative review of tax preferences act of 2010.

— END —

How is the public supposed to comment on a title-only bill? How is anyone supposed to know what the bill does? Why would a committee even bother to hold a public hearing on a title-only bill?

Senate Committee Rule 45 requires at least five days notice before a public hearing is held. But this one, of course, gets suspended more often than not. The current bill is no exception.

There’s already a tax expenditureTax expenditures are a departure from the “normal” tax code that lower the tax burden of individuals or businesses, through an exemption, deduction, credit, or preferential rate. Expenditures can result in significant revenue losses to the government and include provisions such as the earned income tax credit (EITC), child tax credit (CTC), deduction for employer health-care contributions, and tax-advantaged savings plans. review committee, so who knows what this will actually be.

Washington’s state government has a large gap between revenue and expenditures, and a number of proposals have been floated for tax increases or spending reductions. Secrecy is not the route Washington should be taking with these vital questions. (One proposal, which would eliminate the legislative supermajority requirement is particularly ill-advised: making it easier to ram bad ideas through with less debate isn’t exactly the path to good fiscal practices, as I testified in Maryland last year.)

More on Washington State here.