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Trial court sides with super-rich on capital gains tax

The following is from Invest in WA Now:

WATERVILLE, Wash. (March 2, 2022) — On Tuesday, a trial court judge in conservative Douglas County ruled against a publicly popular capital gains tax on the wealthiest Washingtonians’ extraordinary stock market profits. The decision is expected to be appealed and will likely be decided by the state Supreme Court.

“By siding with a tiny number of extremely wealthy residents, the lower court is ignoring widespread public support for helping working families find childcare and providing children with the education they need to succeed in life,” said Treasure Mackley, Executive Director of Invest in Washington Now. “Washingtonians also strongly support making the super rich pay their fair share in state taxes because our state is the nation’s worst when it comes to tax fairness — those with the most money pay the least, while those with the least money pay the most.”

Gov. Jay Inslee signs SB 5096, an excise tax on extraordinary capital gains, on May 4. 2021.

In poll after poll, voters nationwide want the super-rich to pay their fair share of taxes and Washingtonians support the capital gains tax of 7% on extraordinary stock market profits greater than $250,000 (KING 5/Survey USA, Topos, GBAO, PPP, GBAO). Only 0.2% of Washington taxpayers see enough profits to pay this tax. Sales of real estate, retirement assets, small businesses, and farms are exempted.

Parents, teachers, and a school district (intervenors), along with Eastern Washington small business owners and community leaders (amicus), argued that the $500 million per year raised by the capital gains tax is critical funding for much needed childcare, special education services, school construction and repairs, and early learning programs.

“I believe in paying my share in taxes because government spending creates more jobs and more spending at businesses, growing local economies and helping all communities,” said Mary Ann Warren, former President of the Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve seen firsthand how helping parents and children get the help they need to succeed in school and life can improve the lives of entire families.”

“By protecting hundreds of millions in education funding, we are protecting money needed to fix leaky pipes, replace failing HVAC systems, and repair broken equipment in our schools,” said Tammy Grubb, an English teacher at Eastmont Junior High School in Wenatchee. ” I’m retiring in the next few years, and before I go I want to make sure all Eastmont students have access to the education they need to succeed as adults and community members.”

Washingtonians sent more than 67,000 emails, voicemails and other messages to legislators, through Invest in WA Now alone, supporting taxing the ultra-wealthy, like these recorded messages. Many more in the business community support the new tax. Small business owners and members of the tech industry see how immense wealth is stuck at the top. Struggling small businesses understand we need to get more money into the wallets of consumers to avoid another long recession.

“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

Even people who will likely pay cap gains say they have an obligation to pay their share to help WA recover from the pandemic.

“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.

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,” Mackley said. “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.”

Invest in WA Now is a movement of educators, working families, and everyday Washingtonians advocating for progressive revenue solutions. We believe that the best way to support families and businesses during the COVID- 19 crisis is to keep money flowing to our communities, invest in people, and ask the wealthy few and profitable corporations to do their part. Together, we can build a Washington that works for all of us.


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