October 19, 2006
"Condotta discloses radical tax plan"

From The Star of Grand-Coulee, Oct. 4

State Rep. Cary Condotta Thursday mentioned details previously not public about a "radical" new tax plan being designed for the state that would eliminate property taxes.

The 12th Legislative District Republican said he and the majority chair of the House of Representatives Finance committee, Rep. Jim McIntire of Seattle, a Democrat, are working with the governor's staff on new possible models for a dramatically different tax system for the state of Washington. All of them would at least lower property tax and introduce an income tax.
The plan most favored at the moment would eliminate property taxes and lock them out with an amendment to the state constitution, an issue on which voters would have the final say. It would also introduce a simple income tax that "could be filed on a postcard," Condotta said.

If it passed, Washington would be the only state with no property taxes. Now, some 30 percent of the state government's revenue comes from property taxes. And more than 2,300 taxing districts in the state collect property taxes, from school districts to hospital, fire, parks and even cemetery districts.

Those local taxes could be still be levied, but the state would not collect property tax.

I note that the lack of an income tax is one of the arguments for retaining the estate tax. But if I-920 is defeated and the estate tax sticks, I would still expect the usual suspects to argue that we need both income and estate taxes.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at October 19, 2006 04:52 PM | Email This
1. Shell game. No state property tax, but local county taxes remain, and we get an income tax, too. Now, that's a relief, isn't it?

Posted by: katomar on October 19, 2006 04:55 PM
2. Sounds like a couple of candidates for testing today's modern techniques for tar and feathering......

Posted by: Hank on October 19, 2006 04:56 PM
3. When they eliminate all property taxes, I'll be on board. Not until!

Posted by: GS on October 19, 2006 04:58 PM
4. Or shall I say, maybe I would be on board!

Posted by: GS on October 19, 2006 04:59 PM
5. Let's see Governor Democrat, State Senate - Democrat, State House - Democrat, State Supreme Court- Democrat. State's largest County- Democrat Executive, Council - Democrat, Corrupt Election Process in Martin Luther King County -Democrat. By all means, let's ask the voters, I wonder how it will turn out. Maybe Condotta is the Rodney Tom of Eastern Washington. How progressive of him.

Posted by: Huh? on October 19, 2006 05:05 PM
6. No thanks. Don't know why Condotta proposes to help the state Dems reach their ultimate goal, a state income tax. Friends like this I don't need.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on October 19, 2006 05:07 PM
7. I'd think the small business community would go ballistic if we add an income tax and don't shift B&O to net sales instead of gross sales. Why would a small business want to operate in a state that taxes you after taking a loss for the year?

Posted by: Bstep on October 19, 2006 05:08 PM
8. The problem with eliminating all property taxes is that it would make it more difficult for local districts to raise revenues. It's much harder to have different income taxes for different areas because people move often, work far from home, etc. The accounting of it all would be very difficult and the potential for lying about your address to great. Property taxes are easy because the property doesn't go anywhere and you know the person taxed generally can access the service.

What I hope they do is get rid of the sales tax. just have one state tax on individual and corporate income. No sales tax, no B & O, nothing. just a state income tax either progressive or flat.

Local jurisdiction could still raise revenue for services through property taxes and would receive a portion of the income tax.

You would think R's would like it because it would help business and actually make it harder to raise taxes due the higher visibility of income taxes.

Posted by: Giffy on October 19, 2006 05:13 PM
9. I've been on the fence as to whether or not my family is moving out of Washington State, and this clinches it. We're now officially moving to North Carolina. I can't even afford a house in this state anymore. North Carolina? A $500,000 Puget Sound house is $200,000 down there.

I'm paying $1.96 for gas, and the roads actually get maintained, and schools actually get built, and they're considering year-round school. And no Critical Areas Ordinance that steals my property.

It'll be nice to actually live in a Republican state for once in my life, and get out of the Socialist Republic of Washington State. Thanks for nothing, Democrats (and Cary Condotta).

To Huh@5 -- you nailed it.

Posted by: Doug Timpe on October 19, 2006 05:16 PM
10. Anyone who actually thinks their tax burden will go down with this latest scheme is living in la-la land. The government isn't suddenly going to give up that kind of cash; especially since spending already outpaces revenues.

In order to make this work, the state would have to do the following: eliminate ALL property taxes with a constitutional amendment, implement an income tax with a constitionally set maximum limit like 10%, set up state, county, and local budgets that show essential services like police, fire, roads, and education are adequately funded with the real revenue stream, not some "projected" nonsense, tell the sports franchises to either foot the bills or move, eliminate the personal property tax and B&O tax on businesses, and set a constitutional limit for levies at state, county, and local levels that would require a supermajority vote to allow a time limited increase.

MIchigan voters repealed the sales tax on food many years ago because many believed the hype about lowering the overall tax burden, blah, blah, blah. The governor (a conservative) asked the voters to turn down the proposition because he said the legislature was just going to turn around and raise the state income tax. The press portrayed him as a pessimist and going against the will of the people and persecutor of the downtrodden, etc. But guess what happened after the sales tax on food went away? The state income tax was increased because of "pressing needs" (read: welfare captial Detroit needed more money). And the increase was far more than what people were paying through tax on food. Raise your hand if you are surprised.

Posted by: Burdabee on October 19, 2006 05:17 PM
11. I do not like the idea of an income tax at all. Anyone who has lived in a state with an income tax can tell you that it is horrible. Just look at the Federal Income Tax and you will see what the D's will do. They will implement an income tax and then give an earned income credit and low and behold you will see that the higher income bracket will burden most of the nanny states pet projects. The only tax I think is fair is sales tax and would like to see the feds go to that instead on an income tax. Everyone who makes a purchase pays this tax regardless of being rich or poor, legal or illegal, live in the state/country or just visiting. This tax actually has more bang for the buck. Finally look at how bloated the IRS has sbecome over the years. Lower taxes yea right, they will end up raising them again to pay for the new state tax office personel that will have to go through all the yearly paperwork. Of course that works in favor of the D's also. Just think more government jobs even more Union employees, even more Union Dues coming in that the Unions can donate right back to the D's.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on October 19, 2006 05:23 PM
12. warning--

follow the bouncing ball VEEEERY carefully...nothing is free...no legislator EVER gave up a tax without a substitute tax to replace it...very few legislators have the 'almonds' to cut programs...

my opin--dump the WA B&O now. make us competitive with NV or other low tax neighbor states and try LOW taxes & tax cuts--we are competing with our neighbor states and the world--

let's make our state a "haven"--i'm confident it will be MORE than made up in volume and investments.

Ireland and Singapore used to have 10% rates--and you ask why business was moving & outsourced? i saw this first hand in strategic planning meetings in corp USA--simple--encourage business HERE and we all rise with the common sea level.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 19, 2006 05:44 PM
13. They will never do away with Property Taxes. Taxing property is how the government maintains control over people by never letting them ever own their own land. They couldnt have people living on their own property being self sufficient and minding their own business. They need that power. Property taxes are about control over people and nothing to do with running governments.

Posted by: The Black Hand on October 19, 2006 05:44 PM
14. God loves Republicans!

Posted by: GOP on October 19, 2006 05:46 PM
15. I know if I owned my own land clear and free I would grow my own crops and hunt. I wouldnt need to leave unless I wanted to and no one could make me. But with property taxes, I am forced to work to pay "The Man" his due. It's all a bunch of Marxist BS.

Posted by: The Black Hand on October 19, 2006 05:48 PM
16. Only 22.1% of my property taxes goes to the State.........

Posted by: sgmmac on October 19, 2006 06:05 PM
17. Perhaps we should put up an initiative that says you can only be given property tax on the property you can actually use.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on October 19, 2006 06:23 PM
18. Actually I'm not sure that's a bad idea. Though I'd like to add a couple of other taxes like B&O with the taxes constitutionally prohibited. It would all depend on the wording of the constitutional amendment. If it were a flat tax on everybody of all incomes (postcard filing?), it would be worth talking about at least. A lot of people with substantial incomes who rent don't seem to realize that they pay property tax. And I don't have too much problem with local tax and levies being subject to local vote. (Unless we can find a way to add those local vote levies to an income tax rate dedicated to local government). (That would be even better.) Property tax is the oldest taxation system there is. And for much of human history, a person's wealth was directly associated with the property he owned. Either agricultural property or the trade shop he owned in the city. Today almost all real estate property is owned simply as shelter where people and their families live and is unrelated to their income. Granted rich people can more expensive property but so can people living beyond their means. And that's not a good idea.

Certainly seems like something we should be discussing anyway.

Posted by: RBW on October 19, 2006 06:51 PM
19. Just for once, why not enlist the expertise of people who know about speard sheets, economics,etc to suggest a better way for Washington State to come up with a better tax plan. The one we have penalizes only the middle class who have worked their way to where they are. The political crap and those who support it thinking that politics is the way to go deserve what they get and we have it in Washington state. Income tax, no sales tax? Look at Montana, a state with no sales tax, a state income tax and one of the highest rates of property taxes in the country. Look at the places to retire tax wise. Montana is at the top of the list for the states to stay away from. Balance is a suggestion to explore. Sales tax plus property tax plus income tax as suggested by those a lot more informed than most of us would be worth exploring. Pass the tax burden around on a more equitable basis. I know 3 people who have moved out of this state because it's getting too expensive. Too bad the prerequisite for political office is not to have been in business or having actually having had to work for a living. Career politicans or those who have made government their careers who go on to politics don't have a clue. Their checkbooks are the public trough. When they screw up it's just "lets put this behind us and move forward" They all play their silly games for themselves or their party and could care less about the people. No wonder Congress and the rest of government presently has one of the lowest public ratings in the history of this country. Take a good hard look at the persona of a lot of the people who get into politics. What attracts them? After you figure that out you might ask yourself,why vote? It's always the same old BS. Signed: A 70 year old Washington State Voter

Posted by: Wa ST "T party" on October 19, 2006 07:20 PM
20. No NO and NO. If they're so concerned, drastically cut the B&O tax for service businesses. Why single out service businesses? Because they pay (unbelieveably) THREE times the B&O rate of every other business category on the B&O form. It is a complete and total ripoff and needs to be changed YESTERDAY>

Posted by: Michele on October 19, 2006 07:43 PM
21. The bottom line is I saw this exact same thing take place in CT in the 90's. We will get rid of Property tax on the things you own to have a Temporary Income Tax. At the same time this happened. The Navy Cut the number of Submarines being built at the EB Shipyard. No new orders meant thousands of people laid off. Income tax meant anyone that worked had to pay. The temporary 5 -7 year period well was a lie. They not only taxed Income of Citizens. If a person was married to a Navy man or Woman. THeir income was added to the total tax bill. This pushed they military spouses paying a higher tax rate. Smoke and mirrors. Watch how the income tax will target specific groups. THen you have retired income. THat will need to be taxed(Tax the old people) Democrats will say no but they will hide the fact that they are taxing Retired Pay. Maybe even Social Security. The balloon being flown is nothing like what the final bill will look at. CT nearly doubled the amount of money it brought in compared to what the property tax would have brought In. (Property tax was dropping anyway because home values lost 25 to 50 % of thier value) They did not cut the Income Tax as revenue increased but instead started more Social programs(State run by Republicans at the time). Smoke and Mirrors. Cause and effect. Democrats just dont understand what this could do to an economy that is starting to slow down. I guess they want to destroy the economy in this state so they can blame Bush for it. Our economy is directly affected by not only Federal Spending by even more so by Local Politician spending and Taxation.

Posted by: David Anfinrud on October 19, 2006 08:04 PM
22. What a terrible idea. Property taxes are one of the few taxes that nail wealth. Many wealthy fat cats don't have to work, because they already have the cash, and therefore avoid income taxes. Income taxes are just plain stupid.

Here's a better idea: reform govt., prioritize spending, & lower the property tax rates.

Posted by: AP on October 19, 2006 08:19 PM
23. T Party: They did. A bipartisan commission including many prominent business leaders studied this issue in depth. You can find it here

Posted by: Giffy on October 19, 2006 08:29 PM
24. NO income tax as long as the sales tax is available! The "D" is MLK county already take too much and reture too little!

Posted by: sparkie on October 19, 2006 08:33 PM
25. While I generally join the chorus of people who are leery of attempts to implement an income tax in this State; at least certainly absent a bomb-proof constitutional amendment that would put clear, hard, and specific limits on same; I would like to respectfully suggest that others not be too quick to beat up on Rep. Condotta:

FIRST: Full disclosure: Along with Rep. Mike Armstrong, Rep. Condotta is MY 12th District Rep.

Anyway: I have talked to and emailed Rep. Condotta many times, and met him in person at the Capitol and at other venues in Olympia (he is a frequent attendee at the yearly WA Farm Bureau Legislative Days). I am convinced Rep. Condotta is a genuine and thoughtful conservative, who tries to do what he can to get something worthwhile done in the real world; i.e.:
Remember that the (D)s are (sadly) still in the majority in BOTH houses of the Legislative.

Also, note a key phrase that Stefan quoted from The Star (SIDEBAR: It is a VERY small newspaper):
''.... on new possible models for a dramatically different tax system for the state of Washington.''

I don't have any problem with my Legislators exploring possibilities with the (D)s, and I'm willing to take a look at whatever final product actually hits the street (if anything does). And if I don't like it, I will vote NO.

Don't have time to explore and think this thru in detail right now, so I will just throw this out for consideration FWIW:
There are places in WA even OUTSIDE the core Puget Sound urban area where property values have absolutely gone thru the roof in the last few years (an UNDEVELOPED one acre lot in the Upper Methow Valley Edelweiss development sold in 2005 for $100K).
Especially in places like the Methow, where there is a mix of wealthy Microsofties & etc. moving in along with long-term residents who want to retain a rural life-style, skyrockting real-estate values and resulting property tax increases are a real threat to long-term stability.

So while I have a general distaste for a potential income tax, I also have serious and growing concerns about the structure and burden of property taxes in this State. I don't claim to have a good overall solution, but I also know that I like what we've got less and less.
So I can at least agree that our tax structure needs to be looked at. It's my read that ''looking at it'' is all that Rep. Condotta has agreed to do so far, and I've got no problem with that.

Posted by: Methow Ken on October 19, 2006 08:35 PM
26. Well, let me put it like this:

I will give money... a LOT of money... to take this guy and any other "Republican" that supports this crap out of office. I will RAISE money to take him out, personally, if this thing ever sees the light of day.

People. becoming democrats will never get this state back on track. Never.

And if Condotta supports this and calls himself a Republican, with apologies to the William Wallace character, Iím ashamed to call myself one.
Posted by: Hinton on October 19, 2006 09:10 PM
27. Following up on Methow Ken's post, Cary is a good conservative and I'm not sure why he's even putting himself in this position. Rest assured, he'll be hearing from his constituents on this, and I expect his tune will change dramatically.

The basic problem with imposing an income tax in exchange for a supposed/promised reduction in other taxes is it's too easy to ramp those other taxes back up. Bit by bit. A little bit here. A little bit there. And 10 years from now, all (ALL) your taxes are at the same level they were before the income tax AND you've now got an income tax.

Bad move, Cary. You're supposed to be in favor of reducing taxes ... not working on a D-supported lightbulb switch.

Posted by: jimg on October 19, 2006 09:18 PM
28. To totally unravel this myth, do the math and answer the following questions for yourself.

1.) If you are a renter, or rent any spaces for storage, boat moorage, business, etc, do you think that a 20% reduction in your landlord's property taxes would be passed on to you in lower monthly rent enough to fully compensate you for what you would pay if a 10% income tax on all income you earn were adopted?

2.) If you are a homeowner do you think that a 20% reduction in your real estate taxes landlord's rent would lower your monthly rent enough to compensate you for a 10% income tax that you would be paying?

3.) Do you think it would stay or be capped at 10%

4.) Do you feel the state needs another 10% of all incomes in this state along with the current Billion plus dollar surpluses along with all other taxes passed this year?

Just wondering...Let's take a poll

No No No No

Be sure and tell State Rep. Cary Condotta what you think of a state income tax



Posted by: GS on October 19, 2006 09:36 PM
29. This is an attempt at a power grab by the pols in Olympia, plain and simple. That's why it has bi-partisan support.

If they are able to completely eliminate the property tax, including county and local taxes and levys, then every taxing district or authority must go to Olympia and beg for money.

The Queen and the legislature will then dispense the tax money according to their whim.

When the sole taxing authority is vested in Olympia we can expect never ending tax increases.

After all, it's only "fair."

Posted by: Obi-Wan on October 19, 2006 10:06 PM
30. Methow:

skyrockting real-estate values and resulting property tax increases

Can we put this fiction to rest? Unless your property has increased dramatically relative to your neighbors there is only one reason property taxes should increase: Increased spending. Everyone looks at the increased taxes and goes: "Well, my property went up, so ok." So did everyone else's property. So unless the government started spending more money you taxes should change very little.

Now I agree the opposite usually happens, but that's because no one questions it. If the rate never changes and all the housing jumps 16%, guess what happened to the budget. You know, the budget that suddenly isn't enough?

Posted by: Ryan on October 19, 2006 10:15 PM
31. The WA State Dems should never be trusted with an income tax. The Marxists and socialists and indy media and codePink and PrestonGates and classWar advocates should not be trusted with a state income tax. Sadly, there are a few squishy R's in the middle, who over the course of the next few decades, would align with the D's and offer us no protection from income tax increases, or their consequences.

I think Mike McGavick should cut a TV ad, and come out against THE STATE INCOME TAX as proposed by the DEMS in OLYMPIA. Whats he got to lose? What would happen if Cantwell just remained silent on this issue?

Seattle wing-nuts, in effective control of ground water on the peninsula, southern Pierce county, northern Snohomish county and eastern Washington, and in effective control of rural land in King County and in control of counting ballots, now want access to your income through an Income tax.

What have they done recently to earn our trust?

Voter turn out in East KC and East WA has not been substantially higher than County or State averages respectively, yet. Not turning out means Seattle wins.

Doug T. Hope you don't go. We would miss you.

Posted by: gregg on October 19, 2006 10:58 PM
32. It's been a long standing complaint that Washington State's tax revenue is volatile. In good years, we raise too much, prompting the anti-tax jihadists to lower taxs. In lean years, we raise too little, and it's triage for critical functions and services. Politicians try to moderate the ups and downs with the rainy day fund, which sends supposed fiscal conservatives into an apoptotic rage.

I heard Jim McIntire speak at 46 LD Dems meeting earlier this year. He and another fella did a great presentation.

One thing I didn't realize is how regressive WA's tax structure is. The tax rate really isn't the big issue. We pay less than other PNW states.

The three real problems with WA's tax structure is: it's regressive (which is fine if you like punishing the poor, sick, and elderly for being less fortunate), it's volatile (which makes planning kind of tough), and the B&O tax is retarded (unless your goal is to discourage new businesses in WA State).

I encourage everyone to read the study cited above: http://dor.wa.gov/content/statistics/WAtaxstudy/wataxstudy.htm

Posted by: zappini on October 19, 2006 11:17 PM
33. I almost guarantee if they did this they'd find a way to tax a property's increase in value as income.

Posted by: Leonson on October 20, 2006 12:29 AM
34. AP - These "fat cats" (is there just a bit of jealousy here?) would have paid income tax on all the money they earned. Just because they know how to save isn't grounds for name calling.

zappini - sales tax is a regressive tax, I've never understood why so many Ds like it so much, other than it is easy money and they care more about their special projects than fairness or the 'little people'.

Posted by: Right said Fred on October 20, 2006 07:39 AM
35. Bye, bye! Nevada here we come!

Don't kid yourself; the remaining part of the property tax plus an income tax will be far more than the current tax collection.

I like the sales tax because it catches those in the underground economy (ie, cash society) who don't pay other taxes. In fact, if they want to raise taxes, the easiest & most efficient way would be to put the sales tax back on food and other items that are now exempt.

Posted by: Clean House on October 20, 2006 09:58 AM
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