I often disagree with Seattle Times editorial page editor James Vesely, and the opening paragraphs to Sunday’s column are no exception. He once again dismisses those who say we need a state income tax as “tax collectors instead of taxpayers.” [Are we taxed to death or taxed to congestion?]
We may not want an income tax. We may be distrustful of those who propose an income tax. But we need an income tax, and some day we are going to get one. The only question is whether it arises out of a reasoned debate, or some kind of catastrophic political and economic meltdown.
That said, the rest of his column is right on the money in praising and summarizing the adjoining commentary by UW law professor Hugh Spitzer. [Washington state’s upside-down tax system]
Professor Spitzer’s thesis is that public policy should drive how we devise our tax system, whereas in Washington State our tax structure has been driving and distorting public policy.
I know it’s a bit a wonkish, and not the easiest or most entertaining read, but I strongly encourage you to labor through it. It’s about as clear an explanation of these very complicated issues as you are likely to find.
Whenever I delve into the complexities of our tax structure I am reminded how incredibly simplistic Tim Eyman’s understanding of these issues really is. It is simply amazing that we have let somebody like Tim drive our tax policy, while we ignore the advice of our best and brightest.
(But not for long… nudge, nudge, wink, wink…)