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Support the state wealth tax on billionaires

Register your support for HB 1406 TODAY before its public hearing


OLYMPIA (Feb. 2, 2021) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is calling on state lawmakers to invest in Washington by rebalancing our unfair tax code. That way we can invest in the things that make Washington a great place to live: quality schools and colleges, accessible health care, beautiful parks, public transportation, and a strong social safety net that protects the families and communities that continue to suffer the most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WSLC is working with Invest in Washington Now, a movement of educators, working families and everyday Washingtonians advocating for progressive revenue solutions, to support HB 1406, sponsored by Rep. Noel Frame (D-Seattle). This legislation would create a wealth tax of 1 percent on financial intangible assets over $1 billion. It would be paid by only a handful of the 7.6 million people living in Washington: the billionaires who currently pay less than their fair share because of our state’s upside-down, regressive tax system.

TAKE A STAND — HB 1406 will get a public hearing today (Tuesday, Feb. 2) at 1:30 p.m. in the House Finance Committee. Please sign up NOW in support of this bill. Try to do so by 12:30 p.m. to make sure your support is tallied before the hearing begins. Follow this link, mark your position as PRO, and fill out the form with your name and address, and organization, if applicable. (Note: Although this form says “Remote Testimony,” this is not a request to testify live at the hearing, it is to have your support for HB 1406 noted in the legislative record.) You can watch the hearing at TVW here starting at 1:30 p.m.

BACKGROUND — Over the last nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the stock market has reached a record high, and the cumulative wealth of the nation’s billionaires has increased by more than $1 trillion. At the same time, small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and families across this state are struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. This recession is landing hardest in low-income communities – white, Black, Indigenous and people of color – that already pay the highest tax rates in the state. Washington is the worst in the nation when it comes to making the ultra-rich pay their share.

HB 1406 would:

  • Add a 1% tax on value of stocks, bonds, and similar assets greater than $1 billion;
  • Raise more than $2.5 billion every year for hospitals, struggling families, small businesses, education, and more; and
  • Help kickstart our state’s economy to recover from this recession.

HB 1406 would NOT apply to stocks, bonds or other intangible wealth worth less than $1 billion. In fact, as Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times reports:

It’s an annual 1% levy not on income or business revenue, but on what it calls “extraordinary intangible financial assets.” It exempts the first $1 billion of your wealth — meaning that only the state’s true billionaires, those owning stocks and other investments totaling more than $1 billion, would owe any tax at all. This is really a proposed tax on just 10 people. In fact, four of them — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and MacKenzie Scott — are so otherworldly superrich that they would effectively owe all of the wealth tax.

The economic effects of COVID-19 are felt by all of us, but especially our frontline workers, communities of color, and families with low-incomes. This HB 1406 wealth tax would be one step closer to balancing our tax code, directing much-needed resources to low- and middle-income communities and small businesses.

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