Open Government

WPC's Center for Government Reform's mission is to partner with stakeholders and citizens to work toward a government focused on its core functions while improving its transparency, accountability, performance, and effectiveness for taxpayers.

What's New

Governor Puts Universities On Notice

May 13, 2010 in In the News
Seattle PostGlobe
Source: 
Seattle PostGlobe
Date: 
Thursday, May 13, 2010

PUD zapped customers in East Jefferson County

May 12, 2010 in In the News
Port Townsend Leader
Source: 
Port Townsend Leader
Date: 
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Think tank: How to replace the hated B&O tax

May 12, 2010 in In the News
SeattlePI.com
Source: 
SeattlePI.com
Date: 
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Business and Occupation Tax Reform Plan Released

in Press releases

Seattle – Washington Policy Center (WPC), a non-profit, non-partisan policy research organization in Washington state, has released a plan for replacing the state’s Business and Occupation tax (B&O). The study, co-authored by WPC’s Center for Government Reform Director Jason Mercier and Center for Small Business Director Carl Gipson, is a variation of the Texas Franchise Tax—a gross receipts margins tax based on total receipts.

R-52 subject of ballot title challenge

May 10, 2010 in Blog

The Association of Washington Business (AWB) filed a ballot title challenge today to R-52, the green jobs bond bill.

From AWB's press release:

"Citing the importance of clarity for Washington voters this fall, the Association of Washington Business today filed a ballot title challenge to Referendum 52, authorizing the state to sell more than $500 million in bonds to finance green energy construction projects in K-12 schools and public higher education facilities . . .

AWB contends the Legislature did not craft a transparent ballot title for R-52 because it omitted the fact that voters would be making the bottled-water tax permanent. 

The language put forward today in the petition filed by AWB adds the information about the tax while also removing prejudicial language about the perceived impact of the proposal."

Here is a copy of AWB's ballot title challenge.

Supporters of R-52 can't say they weren't warned. During the floor debate an amendment was introduced to change the suggested ballot title. Sponsors of the amendment warned that the proposed ballot title would invite a legal challenge. 

 The current ballot title reads:

"The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561 (this act), concerning job creation through energy efficiency projects in school buildings. This bill would promote job creation by authorizing bonds to construct energy efficiency savings improvements to schools, including higher education buildings."

Senator Parlette offered an amendment to change that to read:

"The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561 (this act), concerning job creation through energy efficiency projects in school buildings. This bill authorizes bonds in excess of the Article VIII, section 1 constitutional debt limit to construct school energy efficiency improvements, and makes permanent the sales tax on bottled water."

The amendment failed by a vote of 16-30.

Those opposing the change worried that voters would be confused by the reference to debt in excess of the constitutional limit and describing the removal of the expiration date on the bottled water sales tax increase as being permanent. Sen. Lisa Brown argued that calling the tax permanent would be misleading since the Legislature could repeal it at any time.

The hearing on AWB's ballot title challenge is set for May 28 at 9:00 a.m. in front of Judge Carol Murphy. 

Is your favorite candy a taxable candy?

May 10, 2010 in Blog

To help the state's shop owners decipher whether the candy sitting on their shelves will be subject to the state's sales tax starting June 1, the Department of Revenue (DOR) has created a list of which candies failed the tax exempt lottery.

The good news, around 260 candies are still exempt from the sales tax. The bad news, more than 3,000 aren't.

So what qualifies as taxable candy? 

According to Section 901 of SB 6143:

"'Candy' means a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. 'Candy' does not include any preparation containing flour and does not require refrigeration."

There you have it, clear as fudge!
.

For the current list of taxable candies click here.

The DOR list includes this disclaimer:

"This list identifies taxable candy products and exempt products that are similar to candy. The Department will update the list periodically. The list is not all-inclusive. If a product that appears to be candy is not on the list, you can request a binding ruling from the Department."

Is Your Favorite Candy a Taxable Candy?

May 10, 2010 in In the News
Seattle PostGlobe
Source: 
Seattle PostGlobe
Date: 
Monday, May 10, 2010