Advocating for revenue: fixing our upside-down tax code

Washington state has the most upside-down tax system in the nation. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem with the wealthiest Washingtonians becoming even richer.  Meanwhile, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, over one million people have filed for unemployment, and schools require even more resources than before.

The rich are using their power to rig the tax system for themselves. Then they pay as little as possible. Meanwhile, the poorest 25% of us – including many educators and our students – pay nearly 18% of our incomes in Washington state taxes. We can do better.

It's time to require the wealthiest among us to pay their share. We can't keep relying on Washington’s low income and working families to fund our schools, hospitals, and roads. It's time to fix our upside-down tax code.

  • Victory: Capital Gains

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

    The tax would 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! Add your name to the petition calling on billionaires to pay their fair share.

  • Up next: Efforts Continue

    We’re continuing to pursue different tools to help fix our broken tax code.  As part of Invest in Washington Now, WEA is supporting efforts to make sure the rich pay their fair share.

    Our opponents – the same wealthy interests that oppose public schools and push voucher schemes – sued the state to try to repeal this tax.  We know we badly need to rebalance our tax code using tools like the capital gains tax to make it fairer.   

    That’s why WEA has joined with our allies to back the legal effort defending the capital gains tax.  We are joining with other organizations to stand up for a fairer tax code and to bring educators’ important voices to the table highlighting the need for more resources to improve counseling, mental health, social work, nursing, and other services and supports in our schools. 

    The Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the capital gains tax case on January 26, 2023. 

Learn more: our upside-down tax code

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

Repealing the Capital Gains Tax Is a Long Shot, (Op-Ed by Bryan Kirschner, a technology executive), The Stranger

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