STATEMENT: Capital-gains tax still on track for review, says budget leader

OLYMPIA… One way or another the fate of Washington’s tax on capital-gains income will be decided this year, predicts Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver and budget leader for the state Senate’s Republican caucus. She offered this reaction today after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the Washington Supreme Court’s 2023 ruling that the tax, adopted in 2021, is constitutional.

“Although the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen not to take up the case, more than 400,000 voters in our state signed petitions to require a review of the tax here at the state level, via an initiative to the Legislature. If their initiative to repeal the capital-gains tax receives final certification, as expected, the future of the tax will determined either by the Legislature this session or by the people in November.

“It would have been nice to know if our nation’s highest court would support the idea that a tax on income can be considered an excise tax, as our state’s highest court did. Other states also would have benefited from a ruling on that. But because of the initiative we should have an opportunity to revisit the tax here in the Legislature, three years later – our state constitution clearly states initiatives take precedence over all other legislation except budget-related bills. If not it will be up to the court of public opinion, meaning Washington voters.”

Under Washington’s constitution, initiatives to the people go directly to the ballot if certified by the secretary of state. Initiatives to the Legislature that receive certification may be enacted by legislators, placed on the ballot, or placed on the ballot along with an alternative for voters to consider.