Advocating for revenue: making sure the ultra-wealthy pay what they owe

Washington state is among the wealthiest in the nation, yet many of our students' needs remain unmet, our districts are facing financial hardship, and some schools are slated for closure. That's because the ultra-rich are using their power to rig the tax system for themselves. Then they pay as little as possible. Meanwhile, the poorest 20% of us – including many educators and our students – pay nearly 14% of our incomes in Washington state taxes. We can do better.

ITEP Who Pays WAIt's time to require the wealthiest among us to pay what they owe. We can't keep relying on Washington’s low income and working families to fund our schools, hospitals, and roads. And we can't keep saying no to our students who need more attention, more staffing, more resources and supports. It's time for everyone to pay a fair share so that our students can thrive.

Fixing our taxes isn't just about fairness - it's about supporting students. The wealthiest Washingtonians can afford to do so much more to support what we know students need, from smaller classes to better buildings and technology to fully funded Special Education.  Imagine what is possible when the rich pay what they owe - not just to improve education but to improve the lives of working families who are overburdened with disproportionate taxes.

  • Ultra-rich fund ballot initiative to repeal tax on themselves

    Because we're making headway toward making the rich pay what they owe for our schools and public services, they're using their millions to push back. Multi-millionaire Brian Heywood has paid $6 million to get 6 initiatives on this fall's ballot including I-2109 to repeal the capital gains tax. Rather than paying what he owes to support our state, he's sinking money into challenging it. Stay tuned as we prepare to fight back for our students and our state.

  • Victory: Capital Gains

    In 2021, the legislature passed the capital gains tax, a small tax on massive stock market profits. 

    Our opponents – the same wealthy interests that oppose public schools and push voucher schemes – sued the state to try to repeal this tax.  WEA joined with our allies to back the legal effort defending the capital gains tax.  On March 24 2023, the Washington State Supreme Court validated the capital gains tax on ultra-millionaires & billionaires

    The tax will generate more than $500 million per year in education funding raised from a 7% capital gains tax on extraordinary profits from stock sales exceeding $250,000 annually. It exempts items such as the sales of real estate, retirement accounts like IRAs, family-owned small businesses, and farms, among other things. It is estimated that only 0.2% of the wealthiest Washingtonians would pay this tax.

    The capital gains tax increases funding for the Education Legacy Trust Account, which supports child care, pre-schools, special education, and community and technical colleges, among other things.  It also funds the Common School Construction Account, which helps with renovating, repairing, and building schools. 

    Hear our WEA president Larry Delaney explain how the tax works, and why only the very wealthiest will be paying it.

  • Take Action

    Write a Letter to the Editor. Take a few minutes and send a letter to the editor and tell your community how the capital gains tax on the super-rich is a first step to making Washington’s tax code more fair and balanced.

    Sign the petition! STOP school closures, make wealthy pay their share. Our schools are teetering on the edge of a dangerous cliff because Washington’s funding system doesn't meet the needs of students. Add your name to the petition calling on billionaires to pay their fair share

Learn more: our upside-down tax code

Tax reform, not a 'Band-Aid' approach, can help fund Seattle Public Schools (Op-Ed co-written by Seattle Education Association President Jennifer Matter and Vivian Song Maritz), The Seattle Times

WA Supreme Court upholds capital gains tax (By David Gutman and Claire Withycombe), The Seattle Times

Education advocates hope capital gains ruling helps WA schools (By Sami West), KUOW

Supporting a WA capital gains tax (Op-Ed co-written by WEA Retired member Kris Cameron), Tri-City Herald

Washington’s tax code is upside-down.  What does that mean?, All in for WA

Washinton state’s upside-down tax code is even more racist than you think, Washington State Budget & Policy Center

Quick Guide to Washington’s Tax Code, EOI