Last Friday, Jay Inslee and state House Democrats announced that they had finally seen the light, and realized that their beloved capital gains income tax was not going to get passed this year. Their announcement left them – and their extreme environmental donors – scrambling for something they could call a win this year.
As a compromise measure, Democrats have asked Republicans to raise $300 million to $350 million in revenue by ending some tax breaks. Republicans signaled they are open to doing so.
So, once again, Inslee and Democrats fell back on calling for an end to the recycled fuel exemption, which they refer to as a tax “loophole.” They have been beating this drum for several years, to no avail – because it’s a flawed, anti-business policy that even some of their fellow Democrats won’t support.
Of course, eliminating the “loophole” in question would make Washington the only state in the country that would put a tax on refineries using their own waste product to generate energy.
That’s right, Inslee and his fellow liberals are so desperate to claim some sort of legislative victory for their rich environmental donors (like Tom Steyer and the funders of the Washington Conservation Voters), that they want to tax refineries for recycling their own fuel!
Inslee and Democrats claim that, due to the exemption, Washington’s tax code subsidizes “Big Oil.” And, that our state is giving millions away to Big Oil. Both the claims are examples of the far-left attempting to drum-up support for their destructive agenda through deceptive rhetoric. The reality is that refineries in our state pay quite a lot in taxes. In fact, the Washington Research Council recently found that Washington refineries pay approximately three times more in taxes than those in California. In terms of the state B&O tax, taxes-per-employee basis, Washington refineries pay about 50 times the state average.
Washington’s five refineries pay a total of more than $268 million a year in taxes. That’s a return-on-investment of two- to four-times the amount of the incentives.
Additionally, recycled refinery fuel has no market value. Often it exists only for a few moments before being reused in the refining process. The most ironic part of the far-left agenda is that, if refiners did not recycle the fuel, they would be forced to rely on more natural gas. That would, in turn, decrease efficiency and increase fossil fuel consumption.
Overall ending a tax break on recycled fuel may sound good (especially for the extreme “green” donors) but, like so many Democrat policies, what sounds good rarely translates to what is good so the state.