Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act Filed in Legislature

Legislation to create a Tax Expenditure Budget as part of the regular biennial budget appropriations process has took a big step forward. Companion bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate in the Washington State Legislature. They both had strong support.

Representative Gerry Pollet (LD 46) introduced HB  2721 with 25 sponsors total. Sponsors included Pollet, Reykdal, Fitzgibbon, Moscoso, Ryu, Appleton, Dunshee, Stanford, Farrell, Bergquist, Tarleton, Walkinshaw, Cody, Kagi, Pettigrew, Freeman, Riccelli, Jinkins, Lytton, Roberts, Wylie, Sells, Ortiz-Self, Gregerson, Goodman.

Senator Maralyn Chase (LD32) introduced SB 6477 with 9 total sponsors. These included Senators Chase, Hasegawa, Kline, Rolfes, Keiser, Kohl-Welles, Conway, Frockt, Ranker.

This legislation would require new and existing discretionary tax preferences to be authorized every two years in a tax expenditure budget. It will add much needed transparency to the hundreds of exemptions and preferences, along with their cost and how each decision to spend money on an exemption or preference is a choice to expend funds for this purpose with particular beneficiaries.

The state biennial omnibus operating appropriations act would be required under this measure to include a tax expenditure budget to approve new and existing discretionary tax preferences, including exemptions, deductions, credits, and deferrals. The tax expenditure budget would detail the fiscal impact, purpose, and effectiveness in meeting the purpose, of each tax preference. Tax preferences not included in the tax expenditure budget would expire at the end of the calendar year in which the budget is adopted.

Support to help publicize and push for passage of this legislation is needed. We expect passage to be difficult given the current makeup of the State Senate but we are planning to reintroduce the legislation next year if it doesn’t move this year. We are heartened by the strong support of Legislators and others we have received to date.

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