There are two ways to look at state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s income tax proposal. I suppose you could, as her office has done, brand it a “high earners income tax,” and in many ways, it is just that. Or, it would also be quite accurate to describe it as a “flat-tax,” the mythical creature of fair taxation to which all righties aspire. (At least, those who believe in taxation at all.)
After all, Sen. Brown’s proposal would impose a single tier flat-tax of 4.5 percent, with a single personal exemption of $200,000 per individual, or $400,000 per household. Those earning, say, $40,000,000 a year would be taxed at the same exact rate as those earning $400,001. Everybody gets the same exemption, and everybody pays the same rate on the remainder; what could be fairer or flatter than that?
Sure, the Brown proposal includes an awfully big personal exemption, but lots of taxes include exemptions. Our federal income tax includes a sizable exemption, as does our state B&O tax. Indeed, the conservative Washington Policy Center has argued for raising the B&O exemption to $200,000 or even higher for new businesses. Indeed, it’s tempting to call tax exemptions a downright conservative concept.
So I have a hard time understanding why the Seattle Times and other conservative critics so vehemently oppose Sen. Brown’s classically conservative flat-tax proposal?