taxes

SALEM, Ore. – Democrats in the Oregon legislature are offering up more details of their plan to raise an additional $275 million for the upcoming budget. High-income earners and some businesses would pay more under the proposal, which was released Tuesday.

Democratic leaders say under their plan, less than five percent of Oregonians would pay more in taxes. The increases are aimed at households earning more than $250,000. Those taxpayers would be able to claim fewer deductions and exemptions on their tax returns.

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.

Education Groups Hail Supermajority Ruling

Mar 1, 2013

Education groups led the charge to strike down the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes in the Washington state Legislature.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Democrats say it’s a victory for democracy. Republicans call it a defeat for taxpayers. In a major decision Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court tossed out the state’s two-thirds supermajority requirement for raising taxes. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the voter-approved law violates a provision of the Washington state constitution that requires a simple majority vote in the state legislature to approve bills.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court is expected to rule Thursday in a case that challenges the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes. A lower court judge previously found the supermajority rule unconstitutional.

If the two-thirds majority for tax hikes which Washington voters have repeatedly approved -- most recently in November with nearly a two-thirds vote -- is thrown out by the court, then really the only remedy for supporters is to try to get a constitutional amendment passed to actually enshrine it in the constitution. That is no easy feat.

Northwest News Network

The Washington Supreme Court is expected to rule any week now on the constitutionality of supermajority votes for tax hikes. Meanwhile, Tuesday the budget committee in the Washington Senate took testimony on a proposal to enshrine that two-thirds threshold in the state constitution.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A proposal to raise Washington’s gas tax by ten cents faces a bumpy road in Olympia. House Democrats rolled out the idea Wednesday as part of a $10 billion transportation funding package, but it faced immediate opposition.

The plan comes from House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn. It would increase Washington’s gas tax two-cents per gallon per year for five years. House Republicans quickly pointed out that when fully implemented, the state’s fuel excise tax would be 47.5 cents per gallon – higher than any other state today.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Three powerful Democrats in the Washington state House are proposing a new 25 percent tax on medical marijuana. The measure introduced Thursday is designed to avoid an underground market for medicinal pot once recreational marijuana is legally sold in stores.

Inslee Open To Extending Temporary Taxes In Washington

Jan 17, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he is open to extending the temporary taxes set to expire this year. On his first full day in office, the Democratic governor said he still favors balancing the budget without tax increases, in his words, “as much as humanly possible.”

But Inslee says he does not consider the continuation of a temporary tax as an actual tax hike.

“I am not proposing or advocating to do that today," the governor said. "But I want to make sure that I allow the legislators room to discuss this potential.”

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden was recently named Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And one of his first moves was asking the administration to investigate the royalties it receives for coal mined on public land. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix explains.

Photo by Aaron Kunz / Northwest News Network

Eliminate a tax on business, build a new mental health facility for prisoners, start a state run health insurance exchange: all things Governor Butch Otter said he wanted to do in his annual State of the State address Monday. But as Adam Cotterell reports, Otter says one thing trumps them all.

Wind Power Tax Credit to Expire Soon

Dec 31, 2012

Some clean energy jobs will disappear from the Pacific Northwest in 2013. Industry leaders say that’s a consequence of letting a wind tax credit expire on Monday. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has completed one of her last tasks before leaving office in January. The Democrat Tuesday proposed a $34 billion budget for the next two years. It includes a combination of cuts, pay increases for state employees and proposed taxes for education. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has details.

The Special Session of the Oregon legislature lasted just one day. The unusual lame-duck gathering Saturday was meant to assure sports apparel giant Nike that the state would not change the way it calculates income taxes for the Oregon-based company. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Murray Urges More Republicans To Break Anti-tax Pledge

Nov 28, 2012
CSPAN

U.S. Senator Patty Murray is encouraging Republican members of Congress to break campaign pledges to vote against any tax increases. The Washington Democrat made the comments on the floor of the U.S Senate Wednesday.

Gflores / Wikimedia Commons

Cyber Monday was expected to generate $1.5 billion in Internet sales nationwide. That’s great for online 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.

Northwest News Network

In Olympia, a new revenue outlook shows a shortfall in the next state budget cycle. That is putting renewed attention on promises not to raise taxes.

Northwest News Network

Both candidates for Washington governor have said “no” to higher taxes. But, outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire says she will propose a new source of funding for public schools before she leaves office in January.

Washington Courts website

The Washington State Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the state's toxic cleanup tax. A ruling issued Thursday turns aside a challenge from gas station owners.

Photo Credit: Rob Mckenna website page and Jay Inslee website page.

The candidates for Washington governor are accusing each other of plotting tax hikes if elected. The issue of taxation came up repeatedly Tuesday night as Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee met in Yakima. It was their third debate.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The Washington Supreme Court could decide by the end of this year whether a voter-approved two-thirds requirement for tax hikes is constitutional. But first, the justices must determine who has the right to challenge the law. That technical question was the focus of oral arguments Tuesday. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has details.

Idaho Wildlife Summit Considered A Success

Aug 27, 2012
Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Idaho’s Fish and Game Department told stakeholders this weekend they are losing funding for valuable wildlife conservation programs. This weekend’s public summit was held to get some help from the people they serve. Earthfix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

M.O. Stevens / Wikimedia Commons

This fall, Oregon voters will debate the future of one of the state’s most unusual tax policies. Oregon elections officials will soon announce whether an initiative to repeal the state's one-of-a-kind corporate kicker rebate has made the ballot. Backers submitted well over the number of signatures needed. But unlike one recent corporate tax measure, this initiative isn't generating much opposition yet.

An initiative to redirect corporate tax rebates to public schools is on track to qualify for the November ballot. This rebate is called the kicker because it goes into effect when tax revenues exceed projections by more than 2 percent.

Judge Blocks Tax On Roll Your Own Cigarettes

Jun 26, 2012
bachmont / Wikimedia Commons

Currently you can walk out of a tobacco shop with a pack of roll-your-own cigarettes for about $5.50. A pack of Marlboros will put you back almost twice that much. That’s because tobacco shops don’t charge the same tax on roll-your-own cigarettes as they would for pre-packaged cigarettes.

State of Washington

A King County judge Wednesday ruled that Washington voters cannot impose a two thirds majority requirement to raise taxes on the state legislature. Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller found voter approved anti-tax Initiative 1053 to be unconstitutional. But the ruling is far from the last word on the matter.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers and their allies sued to overturn the requirement for a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Washingtonians have repeatedly approved that high threshold at the ballot.

But a county judge in Seattle accepted the plaintiffs' argument that the supermajority requirement conflicts with the state constitution. It says a simple majority is all it takes to pass a bill.

Photo by Kevin Mooney / Northwest News Network

It’s no secret that interest groups influence state lawmakers. But it’s not often clear how that actually happens. Much of the action occurs behind-the-scenes. So we’re going to give you a rare glimpse inside the influence game -- to see how lobbyists help shape public policies that affect our everyday lives. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reconstructs how a lobbyist and his iPad changed the course of a $1 billion piece of legislation.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Since the 1970s, U.S. policy toward American Indian tribes has been to encourage economic independence. Tribal casinos are probably the most visible symbol of that policy. These days, tribes are diversifying into other businesses. In 2005, the Chehalis Indian tribe in southwest Washington partnered with a Wisconsin-based water park chain to build a destination resort. The state of Washington, in turn, granted the project tax exempt status. But now, correspondent Austin Jenkins has obtained internal state documents that question whether Great Wolf Lodge really is a tribal entity and eligible for favorable tax treatment.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Jenkins/ Flickr / Northwest News Network

Oregon initiative activists begin gathering signatures this weekend for a measure to do away with a corporate tax rebate. It's known as the kicker because it's triggered when tax revenues exceed projections by more than two percent.

There's also a personal tax kicker, which this initiative would not touch. The labor-backed group, Our Oregon is sponsoring the ballot measure. The proposal would send money from the corporate kicker to schools. Spokesman Scott Moore says currently most of the refunds go to companies headquartered outside of Oregon.

Idaho Lawmaker Is Tax Crusader To Some, Tax Dodger To Feds

Apr 13, 2012
Photo credit: Idaho House of Representatives / Northwest News Network

ATHOL, Idaho -- Tax evasion will get you into hot water with the IRS. But in north Idaho, it won’t necessarily spell the end of your political career. A Republican state legislator who believes the federal income tax is unconstitutional is battling charges of tax evasion, even as he seeks reelection.

The federal government says Phil Hart owes more than $500,ooo in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties. The U.S. Justice Department is threatening to foreclose on his home near Athol, Idaho if he doesn’t pay up. Meanwhile, Idaho tax collectors say Hart owes the state another $53,000.

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