Wednesday’s meeting on our state’s upside-down tax code was very informative. We hope you were there to benefit. Steve Kelly and Lynn McDonald, representing All in For Washington, helped us better understand where our taxes come from, what they are used for, who pays them and who hardly does.

What an eye opener! Our state has the most regressive tax code in the nation — ranking 50th out of the 50 states — which means that those with the lowest income pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes than do those having high incomes. In our state that’s 17% compared to less than 3%. Worst in the country! Definitely not a fair system.

Unlike neighboring states, our state government is funded by a combination of state and local sales tax, state and local property tax, and the business and occupations tax, mostly based on what we buy and what we own. Oregon and Idaho tax earnings, as well. We have a constitutional prohibition on taxing income and earnings.

People with lower incomes spend a greater percentage of their income on sales and business taxes than do people with higher incomes. So, those who have the least pay the most and those who have the most pay the least.

To make matters worse, the total amount of taxes we pay don’t supply enough revenue to properly fund the programs and obligations of the state. Education is underfunded with a court order deadline dead ahead. Mental health programs and institutions are underfunded with legal cases likely to lead to similar court mandates soon. Homelessness is at or near epidemic levels. If nothing changes, we are headed for serious fiscal problems.

Visit the All in For Washington website to find ways to support their efforts to reform the tax code and to learn more about the overall problem. You’ll find several short, clear and concise videos. They are very helpful.

And mark your calendars for our May 17th Indivisible meeting, because Steve and Lynn will return to give us tips on how we can talk to our state legislators about this issue. One of the best things about their presentation is their insistence that we tie taxes to our values, that we see taxes as investments in our future and in each other’s lives. Better information makes us better advocates for change.

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