When is an income tax not an income tax? In Washington state, the answer is whenever Democrats pretend it’s something else. To get around restrictions in the state constitution, they passed a 7% levy on capital gains, while calling it an excise tax. Remarkably, the state Supreme Court went along. Now it’s up to the U.S. Supreme Court to step in under federal law.
The Justices will soon decide whether to hear Quinn v. Washington, a taxpayer challenge to the state’s excise shenanigan. Washington doesn’t have a progressive income tax, because the state constitution forbids it. As the petitioners explain in their brief, any such tax must be “uniform and capped at 1%,” meaning higher earners “cannot be made to pay more as a percentage of their income.”
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