Spin Control

JLARC says close a few tax breaks

OLYMPIA – A special panel is recommending the Legislature end three tax breaks and review eight others the state offers to various businesses or consumer groups.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee suggests the state could bring nearly $44 million if it allows tax breaks on Hog Fuel used to produce energy and on renewable energy machinery to expire as scheduled this year. Terminating the tax break for goods repaired in Washington but delivered to other states wouldn’t actually bring in any money, the committee said.
That $44 million is a relatively small sum compared to the state’s two-year general fund budget of general fund budget of about $32 billion. But the committee says the Legislature should review some more lucrative tax breaks to see if they should be allowed to continue.
Among those are tax exemptions on some types of aircraft fuel, which could bring the state as much as $300 million, and the business and occupation tax on interest on real estate loans, possibly worth as much as $172 million for the next two years.
The committee said the state should continue to offer relatively small tax breaks church camps, non-profit day care centers, laundry services to nonprofit health care facilities, and certain real estate excise tax exemptions. The largest tax break the committee recommended continuing is the sales tax exemption for purchases some out-of-state residents get when shopping in Washington. It would bring in an estimated $58 million over two years to the state if it was discontinued.
The end of tax exemptions – often called loopholes by opponents – was a heated topic  during last session’s budget debates, with liberals arguing they should be closed before programs or services were cut. Very few exemptions were ended, however.
The committee has a hearing on its recommendations next Wednesday in Olympia.
 




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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