A new report shows that Washington’s total state and local-government tax burden fell in 2013 as a percentage of personal incomes.
The average state and local tax burden was $94.31 per $1,000 of personal income. That’s below the national average of $104.68, according to the Department of Revenue, which analyzed census data for its report.
In fact, DOR found the tax burden was Washington’s second-lowest in more than a half century — at least for the years since 1960 for which it has data.
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The tax burden puts our state third from the bottom among the 13 Western states. Only Idaho and Arizona, which have income taxes, had lower rates per $1,000 of income in the West. Highest rates were Alaska at $177.76, Hawaii, $129.73, California, $112.92, and Wyoming, $112.31.
DOR ranked Washington’s tax burden at No. 35 from the top nationally, as a percentage of income. The national Tax Foundation has ranked the state a little higher. Washington slips to No. 22 when measured per person, which reflects our state’s high ranking for income.
Overall, there is a kind of reverse Lake Wobegon effect — we’re pretty much below average in most ways you can slice the tax sausage.
Put bluntly, we are not a high-tax state.
Of course, Washington’s tax burden feels pretty terrible for some people. A big reason is that it lands disproportionately on those who earn the least.
That’s a function of a heavy reliance on sales tax, property taxes and heavy business taxes that in many cases are passed on to consumers in the prices for products.
No one is making a loud case yet for higher taxes in the 2016 legislative session. But we expect to hear about proposals to close tax exemptions for oil refineries and out-of-state shoppers in the short term to pay for the teacher pay increases that Gov. Jay Inslee proposed.
Other tax revenue may be needed for K-12 schools in 2017. That will evoke the inevitable claim that we’re overtaxed. When you hear that rant, ask the complaining person in your life what they would do to balance the load more fairly. That’s the real issue.
Who’s got an idea for making things fairer — not just easy for them?