Tax on ultra-rich could soon fund early learning for kids

February 16, 2021

Olympia: More than a dozen of the State’s Senators just okayed a bill to tax extraordinary profits, also known as capital gains, above $250,000 to help fund early learning and other programs.

“Taxing the extraordinary profits of the super rich is an important step in kickstarting Washington state’s economy,” said Treasure Mackley, Executive Director of Invest In Washington Now. “We must keep money flowing to our state’s people, small businesses, and communities if we want to stay out of an even deeper recession.” 

The bill, SB 5096, next goes to the floor for a full vote of the Senate. 

As passed in committee, SB 5096 would:

    • add a 7% tax on high-end capital gains – such as sales of stocks and bonds – only on profits greater than $250,000;
    • raise more than $1.64 million over 4 years for early learning and other programs; and
    • impact just 2% of the wealthiest Washingtonians.

SB 5096 would NOT apply to gains from the sales of assets from:

    • retirement accounts,
    • family-owned or small businesses,
    • residential real estate, or
    • farmland, horses, timber, or livestock.

Senators voting yes were: Christine Rolfes, David Frockt, June Robinson, Reuven Carlyle, Steve Conway, Jeannie Darneille, Manka Dhingra, Bob Hasegawa, Sam Hunt, Karen Keiser, Marko Liias, Jamie Pedersen, and Lisa Wellman.

Invest In Washington Now is calling on Washingtonians to send thank you emails to the Senators voting yes.

More than 1,700 people signed in to show support during last week’s House hearing on a similar capital gains bill, HB 1496. Testimony excerpts from that hearing included:

“I will end up paying the tax.…I am doing well personally…It only makes sense for me and people like me to pay our share. Why wouldn’t you tax us?,” said Shaula Massena, a potential capital gains taxpayer from Seattle. 

“The wealthy few are enjoying all the benefits of our great state and it’s past time to demand they pay their fair share,” said Dan Olmstead, CEO of Poverty Bay Coffee Company in Auburn.

“I know that there is an argument circulating that this would hurt small businesses, and that just isn’t true,” said Tiffany Turner, co-owner of Adrift Hospitality in Long Beach.

Washington is the worst in the nation when it comes to our upside down tax system – where the lowest income families pay the biggest share for our state’s hospitals, roads, and schools. Almost every other state in the nation – including Idaho, Montana, and Oregon – taxes capital gains, and are better situated to help their states’ economies recover from this pandemic.

“Washington’s system pits students, patients, and the most vulnerable against each other in a mad budget scramble every year,” said Mackley. The pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable we all are. Voters and economists agree it’s time for those who’ve done well in Washington to do right by Washington.”

In a December 2020 survey of 500 Washington voters, an overwhelming 76% support increasing taxes specifically on wealthy individuals and corporations. The same number say that “the wealthiest should pitch in a little more in taxes,” with more than half (54%) agreeing strongly with this statement. Full polling memo here.

Invest in Washington Now is a new 501c4 group funded by educators, health care providers, and others through their unions, and other civic organizations.