Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tax amnesty provides small budget boost

Yesterday the state Department of Revenue announced their tax amnesty program generated more than $320 million in state and local back taxes owed by businesses.

The state's share is about $264 million, very welcome news as legislators continue working on a $5.1 billion budget problem. Legislators approved the amnesty program during the December 2010 special session and assumed it would generate about $80 million, making the “net” increase closer to $180 million.

Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald spoke to budget-writers who were quick to point out that even though this helps the state's bottom line, several budget-related policy decisions remain in play.
"This will solve some of the financial differences," [House Ways & Means Chair Ross Hunter] said. "We still have some policy differences that we have to work out. I see no reason why we should not finish by the end of the special session."
So the work continues.

The Senate Ways & Means Committee is meeting today to hear several budget-related bills, including one by Senator Ed Murray that would allow the Legislature to repeal or modify tax exemptions without a 2/3 majority vote. That requirement was put in place when voters approved I-1053 last November.

House Ways & Means members will be in Olympia tomorrow.

To read this blog post in Spanish, go here.