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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Income tax may be ballot-bound

OLYMPIA -- Supporters of an initiative to put an income tax on people who make more than $200,000 may have the signatures to make the Nov. 2 ballot.

The Initiative 1098 folks have informed the Secretary of State's office they'll be bringing in an estimated 325,000 signatures on July 1, the day before the deadline for turning in petitions.

I-1098 is the latest attempt to put an income tax in Washington state. It calls for a tax on a person making more than $200,000 per year or a couple earning more than $400,000. In exchange, it lowers some of the existing state taxes, such as the sales tax.

An initiative proposal needs about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot, and elections officials suggest having at least 300,000 to get the cushion needed for rejected signatures.

Income tax proposals on the ballot have generally failed, the exception being the first such proposal during the Great Depression, which was overturned by the state Supreme Court. There's a debate among lawyers whether an  income tax by initiative is even possible without a change in the state constitution, but that's a discussion for Nov. 3, if the initiative passes.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.