‘Call it what it is,’ says Muzzall – ‘An income tax’

If it walks, swims and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, not the goose that laid a golden egg


Despite strong revenues and billions in federal funds coming to Washington State, legislative Democrats pushed through a controversial state income tax bill, under the guise of calling it and “excise on capital gains.” Senate Bill 5096 would impose a 7 percent tax on proceeds above $250,000. State Sen. Ron Muzzall voted against the measure that was approved Saturday evening by a vote of 25 to 24.

“I’m a farmer and so I come at things from a sometimes-simple approach. My father taught me a lot and one of the biggest lessons was on integrity. Say what you mean and mean what you say,” Muzzall explained. “If it walks, swims and quacks like a duck, it’s not a chicken, and definitely not the goose that laid a golden egg. It’s very clear that this is an income tax.”

Advocates for the bill were careful to side-step using the term income tax, but every state with a capital gains tax classifies it as an income tax. Responding to a Congressional inquiry about the semantics, the Internal Revenue Service said, “You ask whether tax on capital gains is considered an excise tax or an income tax? It is an income tax.”

While Republican amendments to provide clarity, protect small business or provide additional tax relief to working Washingtonians were rejected, Muzzall was pleased one particularly problematic provision was amended.

“It’s such bad policy, but I’m happy that we were able to have bipartisan agreement on removing the emergency clause,” Muzzall said. “I am saddened though to see the constituents of the state of Washington saddled with an income tax. Because mark my words this is just the beginning, we will see this expanded to all the citizens of Washington. With budget surpluses looming it is unbelievable that we are seeing taxes being raised. Our state government has an addiction to spending. I can only hope the citizens see the problem and move to correct it. This is a sad day for Washington.”

When asked, Washington voters have rejected efforts to impose various types of income taxes at the ballot box a total of 10 times in the past 80 years.