Business owners must speak up about state tax talk

Raising taxes on “the wealthy” might seem like a great idea until you realize that many of the proposals coming out of the state Capitol would apply to small-business owners who don’t meet most folks’ definition of wealthy.

For example, a proposed 66 percent increase in the business and occupation (B&O) tax on service-sector businesses would apply to hair dressers, child care providers and car repair shops. In many rural areas, these are among the last remaining businesses.

Likewise, a proposed 7.9 percent capital gains income tax wouldn’t just apply to wealthy investors, but also to small-business owners who, after years of hard work building equity in their business, sell their business to support their retirement.

And, that’s just the start.

So far, these proposals haven’t gained much traction. However, lawmakers are scheduled to be in Olympia until April 23 – plenty of time to enact taxes that impact employers across the state. And, there is a common belief that the Legislature will head into at least one 30-day special session, and possibly more.

This means the discussions about how to grow government spending through new and higher taxes are likely to continue for a while, even as revenue from existing tax sources continues to rise thanks to a growing economy. In March, the state released figures showing revenue collections through 2019 are expected to increase by more than half a billion dollars over earlier projections.

One way to influence the debate is for small-business owners to speak up and share their stories about how new and higher taxes would directly impact them.

Together we can tell the story of what really makes Washington thrive, bringing shared prosperity and job growth to all 39 counties.

— Kris Johnson is the president of the Association of Washington Business.


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