Washington’s New Tax Spreads Into Idaho’s Pockets | Opinion


It’s not often that I wade through the politics of another state. I firmly believe in the individual rights of each state to govern its residents as dictated by its electorate.

However, I was recently made aware of a bill passed by the Washington Legislature that needs serious enlightenment.

In its last session, the Washington legislature passed HB 1323, Washington’s long-term care law. The bill was brought forward by the legislature even though an earlier advisory vote by Washington residents resulted in a two-thirds negative vote. Passed, in the midst of a global pandemic, this bill was passed at a time when very little comment could be given by an audience that was largely limited to the home by closings and closings. This law creates a new payroll tax, 59 cents on every $ 100 of wages earned in Washington. This tax does not discriminate, taxing anyone working in the state, regardless of their residence in the state.

The thing here, gentlemen, is that the only way to qualify for this tax is to live in Washington state.

The intention of this bill was to provide long term care benefits to people who had no other options. It is not an unworthy cause to defend, one might say.

But then why not pay it out of your own general fund?

Well, because even including taxes on the wages of non-Washington employees, their own state review says it is not self-sufficient and the current percentage will need to be increased in order to accomplish the intent of the law Project.

Unfortunately, given the restrictions, exemptions, and the lifetime cap, it looks like it could provide a very sick and destitute person with only about six months of care, if not that.

Washington employees (including many Idaho residents) are under pressure to provide proof of enrollment in a “qualifying” plan to their employers or they will be enrolled in the state program.

What does a qualifying plan look like, you might ask.

Nobody knows. The rules have not yet been drafted by the state agencies responsible for overseeing implementation. Moreover, insurance companies cannot even advise those who try to comply because no parameters have been given. This new tax will have a huge cost for private companies. Looking at large companies such as Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories on the Washington / Idaho border. It has approximately 1,000 employees at Pullman who live out of state. Washington State University employees have long crossed the border for work. Looking north to Coeur d’Alene / Spokane, I would only guess how many people from that area travel to Washington every day for work. Then there’s the greater Portland / Vancouver metropolitan area.

This bill impacts thousands upon thousands of workers and their employers who are being asked to support a half-baked idea that gives new meaning to “taxation without representation” for a benefit they don’t. can not use.

As a former state legislator, I can’t imagine a bill before me or my colleagues that would ever have suggested that we have the right to tax out-of-state residents for anything. from which they could not benefit. I can’t even imagine it’s legal. But it is certainly not ethical.

I am not talking about sales taxes or gasoline. If anyone visits our state, they can help maintain our roads and pay sales taxes on items purchased here in order to provide any services they might need when they visit, such as fire and police. . These are basic needs.

I wonder: what if I would suggest to some of my friends in the Idaho Legislature that they introduce a bill to compensate Idaho residents whose hard-earned wages have been unfairly taken away from them. This bill would tax Washington residents 60 cents for every $ 100 of wages earned in Idaho. This tax would then be distributed to Idaho residents who work in Washington as a tax credit.

Maybe Oregon would like to follow suit.

Unfair you say? Certainly. This is hyperbole. That’s the point.

But this is a bad bill and there is no reason to follow it from one another and another. It’s time for taxpayers and voters on both sides of the state border to jump on it. Let Gov. Jay Inslee know how much of a travesty this is and tell him to withdraw the bill.

Agidius represented the counties of Latah and Benewah in Idaho House. She lives in Moscow.

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