Tax Loophole Reform Initiative to Washington State Legislature Filed

Tax Sanity ( )  on May 17, 2013 filed an Initiative to the Legislature to address the issue of Tax Loophole Reform.

As noted in an article in Crossscut entitled Tax exemptions are starting to draw an uncomfortable spotlight:

Tax Sanity filed paperwork Friday with the Washington Secretary of State to start an initiative campaign to require the state Legislature to list every tax exemption in every budget passed by the House and Senate. The idea is that each of the state-controlled tax exemptions should be considered as a budget expense — and should be considered as such in each biennial budget, said Tax Sanity leader Steve Zemke.

Out of the state’s roughly 640 tax exemptions, the Legislature controls 452. The others are required by the state Constitution or the federal government.

The initiative proposes that tax expenditures be incorporated into the Biennial State Budget Process and be subject to the same review and consideration that other state expenditures undergo during the budget process.  Right now tax expenditures are dealt with as off budget spending and not seriously considered as to their effectiveness or how they may or may not meet the current state priorities of government. This initiative proposes to remedy some of the current problems. You can review the text on our website at

The initiative proposes the following:

  • Tax expenditures are incorporated into the  State Budget by creating a Tax Expenditure Budget
  • Tax expenditures that are  required on state or federal constitutional grounds are not part of the Tax Expenditure Budget
  • The Tax Expenditure Budget must be approved as part of the biennial state budget process
  • The state spending limit is increased to include the Tax Expenditure Budget to reflect the actual level of state expenditures.
  • The state spending limit may also be increased to comply with a State or Federal Court order.
  • Additional criteria are added in reviewing the effectiveness of tax expenditures in meeting the Priorities of Government
  • Expensive statewide advisory votes on revenue increases are eliminated to save taxpayer dollars
  • Repealing a tax expenditure is not defined as a tax increase but a return to the tax base.

We ask that you carefully read the proposed initiative and provide us with any suggestions you may have to improve it. This is your opportunity to give us feedback and address concerns you may have with our proposal.  We will consider revisions before we finalize the language and put the initiative before the voters for them to sign. Please respond by May 31st to insure that your comments are considered.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss this measure further.

Send comments to:

Steve Zemke
Director – Tax Sanity
As an initiative to the legislature sponsors have until Jan 3, 2014 to file petitions with the valid signatures of 246,372 registered Washington State Voters.  Typically sponsor collect up to 25% more signatures to take care of duplicate and invalid signatures.This means about 320,000 signatures will be needed. More information of the Washington State Initiative process can be found in the publication from the Washington Secretary of State’s Office entitled, Filing Initiatives and Referenda in Washington State.

The Washington State Legislature can respond to the initiative three ways:

1. It can vote to enact it, it which case it becomes state law.

2. It can ignore it, in which case it will automatically go onto the November 2014 ballot.

3.  It can ignore it, but draft an alternative in which case both measures go onto the November ballot.


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