Thursday, March 1, 2007

Washington Needs Its Sales Tax

The state prosecuted a Washington resident who bought 16 vehicles in Washington and titled them using an Oregon address. This month he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree theft for evading more than $14,000 in taxes. He'll have a 50-day sentence (20 days of work release and 240 hours of community service) and he'll be required to pay restitution. Driving school owner sentenced to 50 days after pleading guilty to theft, Wash. AG press release, Feb. 16, 2007.

Oregon has an income tax but no sales tax; Washington has a (hefty) sales tax but no income tax. Although many people acknowledge that the sales tax is regressive and it would be more equitable to have an income tax, making the switch would be incredibly difficult politically. (Many voters would probably fear that we'd get an income tax and still have the hefty sales tax.) So here we are, dependent on the sales tax (and various property and business taxes) to run the state. As a taxpayer and as someone who works for the state-supported institution, I'm glad they're enforcing the tax law. State government can't operate on frequent rain and nice views on the clear days.

(I'm sure the man who titled the cars in Oregon didn't step forward and offer the folks in Salem to pay them income tax to support their government. You don't get to have it both ways: no sales tax and no income tax!)

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