Hawkins, Goehner: Tax on wealth unfair

Hawkins, Goehner: House ‘Wealth Tax’ bill ‘punishment’ for success


By Gary Bégin

OLYMPIA – A rehash of an old Democrat Party idea has come back to the state capitol for a vote. So far it is only in the House, but Senator Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee) is ready with an answer if it ever comes to the state Senate.

Improving the equity of Washington state's tax code by creating the Washington state wealth tax and taxing extraordinary financial intangible assets — House Bill 1406, was introduced by Rep. Noel Frame (D-Seattle) in late January.

Hawkins stated, in an exclusive interview with NCW Media, that “HB 1406 is a new proposal this year, so I don’t know how far it will advance. If it does advance, it will probably be one of the final bills of the session and part of the overall budget package. Since it is a House of Representatives’ bill, there hasn’t been much talk of it yet in the Senate,” Hawkins said.

“While I certainly want everyone to pay their fair share of taxes, this one seems to be targeted toward a few people as almost a punishment for their success. Personally, I think people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Starbucks, or anyone else who is this fortunate has worked incredibly hard for their earnings, took gigantic risks, made big sacrifices throughout their business careers, and have employed a tremendous number of people in the process,” continued Hawkins.

“They happen to also be very sincere in their efforts to support others with generous foundations and personal giving. This bill seems like an effort to extract money from a handful of very successful people to fund more growth in government. To me, that sends the wrong message,” he said. 

“While state revenues have taken a modest hit during the COVID pandemic, our state economy is holding steady despite efforts to keep our economy closed. Personally, rather than implementing creative new taxes to significantly grow the budget, I would favor using our $2 billion budget stabilization account reserves and making modest adjustments to balance the budget rather than more tax increases and continued spending,” said Hawkins.

“I’m not sure Washington State can keep this up if the economy and state revenues dip again due to COVID or if our state or country experiences a non-COVID recession in the future. So as much as I would like to keep an open mind about everything, I am concerned about the message this bill sends and the way it might chase off a few people from Washington, people who are among our state’s most incredible success stories,” Hawkins concluded.

Tom Olson, Washington resident and political commentator, stated on the USA Votes chat site that the Seattle Democrats’ tax bill is: “(1) Confiscatory and punitive, (2) hasn't worked elsewhere, (3) expensive and difficult to administer, (4) will be easily circumvented by the ‘rich’ simply changing domiciles from Washington. Perhaps this should be retitled ‘Texas-Florida stimulus act?’"

In another exclusive interview with the Wenatchee Business Journal, State Representative Keith Goehner (R-Dryden) said about the “wealth Tax”, “I am not in favor of a ‘wealth tax.’  It is important to have equity in taxation, but disproportionately taxing success does not encourage additional investment in the State.” 

Goehner continued,  “We should be providing incentives for reinvestment in our communities by those who are best positioned to manage those investments.”

State Representative Mike Steele (R-Chelan) did not respond to an interview request by publication deadline. Keep reading NCW Media publications: Leavenworth Echo, Lake Chelan Mirror, Cashmere Valley Record, Wenatchee Business Journal and the Quad City Herald for updates on this new tax proposition by Washington state Democrats.

NCW Managing Editor Gary Bégin email: Gary@ncwmedia.net. Emails be used as Letters to the Editor in future NCW Media editions. 

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