Letters to the Editor

Make Island County the test case | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Our elected representatives are becoming more embarrassing by the day.

For weeks, Rep. Barbara Bailey and Rep. Norma Smith have been in the news for being so anti-tax that they can’t figure out how to pay for our ferries and for sponsoring trivial bills (e.g., making coffee the state beverage and easing “burdensome” regulations on business) that do nothing to solve our state budget crisis.

Now, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen has proposed a $100 fee to punish drivers who would choose a cleaner mode of transportation.

Their foolishness is abetted, if not caused entirely, by our state’s incoherent tax system. The state Legislature decides what needs to be done and THEN figures out how to pay for it. That means either finding a new tax, or raising one that already exists — or worse, kicking the can to individual counties.

Everything the state provides should either benefit everyone or those who can’t provide for themselves. Roads and highways benefit everyone. Ferries benefit everyone. Clean water benefits everyone. Educating our young benefits everyone. Parks benefit everyone. All citizens who can pay should help pay for those services and infrastructure.

The only way the cost can be shared fairly by everyone is via a flat income tax. I have asked all of our elected representatives to urge the governor to designate Island County as a “tax laboratory” to prove this concept. All resident taxpayers would pay a flat income tax and no other state taxes. No property taxes, no sales taxes, no utility taxes, no weight fees (on license renewals), no park fees.

No reportable income? No tax at all.

State taxes are deductible from federal taxes, thus reducing Washington’s dubious distinction as a “donor state” whose taxpayers pay more in federal taxes than the state receives in federal benefits. Everybody wins.

A flat state income tax would also be the easiest and cheapest tax to collect — just a flat percentage of adjusted gross income that any competent taxpayer or preparer could calculate and send to the county treasurer for no more than the price of a stamp.

No county resident or business would have to beg for reduced property taxes or any other exemptions. No county resident would need to shop elsewhere to find lower sales taxes. People from other counties would be tempted to shop in our stores to avoid taxes at home. Voter-approved actions would be covered with just pennies per capita from a tax they would already pay and could not be raised without majority approval. It’s just simple math, not rocket science.

Please join me in urging our elected officials to do something really worthwhile for us for a change.

Jim Bruner

Oak Harbor

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