Four years ago, Jay Inslee (in)famously said that he would veto tax increases, saying “now is not the time for new taxes.” Unfortunately, you can’t seem to find that quote on the Seattle Times web site anymore, which might be why in a story today the paper incorrectly says that Jay Inslee does not support a state income tax. This comes two days after the Tacoma News Tribune also denied Inslee’s income tax dreams.
Of course, Inslee does support creating a state income tax, in fact he proposed one less than two years ago, as was reported in this rundown of all the tax increases which Inslee asked the legislature for in 2014.
It seems the Times is aware of that basic fact, as in today’s story the paper even admits that “Inslee does have credibility problems on taxes. When running for his first term in 2012, he said he opposed new taxes and would veto them. He broke that pledge in 2014, proposing $1.4 billion in new revenue, including new fees on carbon emissions and a tax on capital gains targeted at the wealthiest Washingtonians.”
So, if the Times knows the truth, why doesn’t it come and say what Inslee (falsely) tries to deny – that he favors a state income tax?
Evidently, it comes down to your definition of what is an income tax, and whether (like Inslee’s gubernatorial opponent, Bill Bryant) you use a calculator to make the point. If you’re Inslee, you say that you just want to tax wealthy people and their capital gains, and call it an “excise tax”. Yet, if you’re the federal government, as Shift has pointed out, you call those capital gains “income”.
Thus, a tax on capital gains is a tax on income.
And if you’re Inslee’s opponent, you try to catch people’s attention by using an online calculator to determine how much Inslee’s income tax would cost you. And you use a bill introduced by a state senate Democrat who supports Inslee to make that calculator run.
So, the Times says the ad is “mostly false”, defining that as “the statement has an element of truth but ignores facts that would lead to a different impression.”
However, at least the Times is making the income tax an issue, even if it lets Inslee “mostly” off the hook for his willingness to stretch the truth. Now we’ll see if Inslee tries to take the issue completely off the table, by following the advice from a guest editorial also in the Times today: propose a constitutional amendment banning a state income tax, and letting the voters decide.
We won’t be holding our breath on that one.