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Spin Control

Both sides misstate income tax positions of Baumgartner, Marr

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Claim: “With (Marr’s) tax increases, it’s hurting my employees and my business and the last thing I need right now is an income tax,” said Julie (who doesn’t give a last name and claims to be a Spokane business owner).

Source: TV ad from “Spokane Families for Change,” a group made up this year. It is funded completely by Working Families for Change, which is funded completely by The Leadership Council, a committee aimed at electing Republicans to the state Senate. Among the top contributors are the Washington Health Care Association, the Building Industry of Washington and the Washington Hospital political action committee. By diverting money like this, the true source of the money does not have to appear on ads.

Truthfulness: Perhaps true if Julie sells cigarettes. False as it applies to income tax.

Analysis: Incumbent Democrat state Sen. Chris Marr voted this year to increase the tax on cigarettes from $2.03 to $3.03 a pack. He voted against the other taxes that the Legislature used this year to balance the budget.

It should be noted, however, that even though Marr voted against the final budget, he voted for an earlier version of the budget that assumed new taxes would be approved, saying he wanted to move the process forward.

Marr and his Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner both have taken strong stands against the income tax in general and the proposed income tax on next week’s ballot. The ad cites the Democratic Party platform as the source for its allegation that Marr backs an income tax. But Marr never signed or took a pledge to the party platform.

Claim: Baumgartner “supports corporate income tax that would harm small businesses.”

Source: Mailer from Marr campaign

Truthfulness: Half-truth, maybe even quarter-truth.

Analysis: What Marr doesn’t say is that Baumgartner would only support the creation of a new business tax if the state’s unpopular business and occupation tax were eliminated. And, technically, Baumgartner is supportive of a single-business tax, which is similar to a corporate income tax, but different.

Baumgartner has endorsed the Washington Policy Center’s proposed single-business tax, which is based on a tax in Texas. It’s a hybrid between the business and occupation tax, which is a tax on revenue, and an income tax, which would be a tax on profits. The proposed tax would be a tax on revenue, but businesses could deduct their cost of labor or cost of materials or $60,000 under the proposal from the police center, said Carl Gipson, who co-authored a report for the policy center about the single-business tax.

Businesses have long called the B & O tax unfair because businesses have to pay it even if they’re not profitable. Gipson said the group looked for alternatives a corporate income tax, in part, because of constitutional and other challenges to the creation of a corporate
income tax. Marr has said he opposes the policy center’s proposal.


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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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