estate tax

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.

The checks will not be in the mail Friday morning. Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation late Thursday night to halt the issuance of refunds to the heirs of some multi-million dollar estates. At a midnight bill signing, Inslee – a Democrat – praised the legislature for voting to fund schools in lieu of refunds for wealthy families. But he also said he wants lawmakers to find additional sources of revenue for the next budget.

The Washington House and Senate have struck a deal that would forestall having to issue estate tax refunds starting Friday morning. House Democrats quickly passed the tax rewrite in response to an unfavorable court decision.

But the mostly Republican-controlled Senate has not yet voted. House Finance Chair Reuven Carlyle portrays it as a choice between money for school kids or refunds for wealthy estates.

Washington lawmakers have until the end of the month to pass a budget – if they hope to avoid a government shutdown. But there’s another costly deadline looming this week.