It was more popular on that ballot than bringing back the sale of beer
October 21, 2015 8:47 AM   Subscribe

The Strange, Short Story Of Washington State’s Income Tax
People were so excited about the income tax that they voted twice. First, they changed the state constitution to allow the tax. Then voters approved the tax – 70 percent in favor. In the time between the two votes, something significant happened: People had received their income tax forms in the mail. Suddenly the tax wasn't just a theory. The form was daunting, and newspapers suggested people might need professional help to fill out the form.
posted by Existential Dread (9 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oooohhh that is AWESOME... it didn't seem to kill Boeing, so it can't be that business hostile... I think we should all switch.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow. So this article is the earliest example I've ever seen of how power works in Seattle/Washington State generally. Say the people of the state want a given thing (rail transit, a housing levy, whatever), but that the chambers of commerce don't. What will happen is that there will be a vote on that thing. If the vote comes back "yes," the Seattle Times will run articles railing against it for a year or so. Then there will be another vote. If the vote comes back "yes," the Seattle Times will run articles railing against it, and then there will be another vote. Lather, rinse, repeat, until the electorate gives in and votes against it.

This works the other way around for things that the technocratic center wants but the electorate doesn't want; there'll be a vote, and if it comes back "no" there'll either be more votes until the answer becomes "yes," or else the city/state will just go ahead and do it over the objections of the people they serve (see: two stadiums south of downtown, and one perpetually half-completed tunnel under it). Typically when they do this, elected officials and the Seattle Times editorial board will release a bunch of incredibly paternalistic statements about how what they want is so much better than what we want, and we'll thank them for it later, really we will.

Tl;dr: Power in Washington State is exerted through weaponized sealioning.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2015 [56 favorites]


The differences in taxation between Oregon and Washington are just weird. One has an income tax, one doesn't. One has (rather big) sales taxes, the other doesn't. You can't tell me the populace is so different to the point where this makes any rational sense.

Makes me think the Georgists were right all along.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:50 AM on October 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


yctab, you just beautifully summed up the stadium 'rejections' of the 90s
posted by kokaku at 9:54 AM on October 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


You can't tell me the populace is so different to the point where this makes any rational sense.

There are way more of you up there!

They've tried for years to get a sales tax* going in Oregon, but it always fails miserably.
The last state-wide one lost by 75% of the vote, and local sales taxes have done worse.

* "For the children"
posted by madajb at 11:47 AM on October 21, 2015


Maybe if we had an income tax today the state legislature wouldn't be in contempt for court for unconstitutionally failing to fund education.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 4:07 PM on October 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


They've tried for years to get a sales tax going in Oregon, but it always fails miserably.
The last state-wide one lost by 75% of the vote, and local sales taxes have done worse.


If the voters are against it, then which interest-group "they" is for it?

I suspect the Georgist theory is correct, and whatever a sales tax would have paid for (school funding, maybe, if it's "for the children") could be done better with higher land value taxes. (Or taxes on other unearned rents: higher patent fees, higher fees and more regulation for local monopolies like power companies, etc.)
posted by Rangi at 5:48 PM on October 21, 2015


If the voters are against it, then which interest-group "they" is for it?

The last 2 statewide sales taxes were legislatively referred.
I'm pretty certain the one before those was as well.
posted by madajb at 10:50 PM on October 21, 2015


Makes me think the Georgists were right all along.

In some ways, they were.
posted by snottydick at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2015


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