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Originally published Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 5:42 PM

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Editorial: If John Boehner kills the Marketplace Fairness Act, it would hurt Washington state

Congressional politics block online sales tax and new state revenue


Seattle Times Editorial

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Hurt Washington State? Odd perspective. Preventing the tax saves the tax payers money! And it doesn't add to a bloated ... MORE
Washington State can make up the difference by importing 500,000 more illegal immigrants, who are well-known for... MORE
Washington State can't spend the money it has wisely. It would be foolish to give it more. MORE

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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’spromise this week to kill the Marketplace Fairness Act is a kick in the gut to Washington state.

The measure would empower all states to collect sales taxes for online transactions from residents who make purchases from out-of-state companies.

Here in Washington, state revenue officials estimate the act would funnel $217 million in new revenue for local municipalities and $478 million for the state in the 2015-2017 biennium. The $695 million total would rise to $889 million by 2019-2021.

This additional revenue is important for a state that doesn’t levy an income tax and relies predominantly on retail sales, property and business and occupation taxes for its funding.

New state resources are particularly needed to meet the state Supreme Court mandate of increasing basic education funding. Many state lawmakers have been counting on the act for that very reason.

Washington’s cities and counties have plenty of underfunded needs as well. And passage of the act would help deliver the core basic services every citizen relies upon.

But Boehner has consistently expressed concerns about the bill, aligning himself with the anti-tax fervor that has increasingly transfixed congressional Republicans.

His resistance to take up a measure that has bipartisan support in the final months before the GOP takes control of both chambers of Congress smacks of political maneuvering, not good governance. The Senate passed the bill on a 69-27 vote last year.

Congress has been steadily shifting more responsibility to the states for a generation. It’s only fitting that it provides the ability to fund those responsibilities as well.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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