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Monday, August 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Pacific NW

Washington considers taxes for Oregon shoppers

Shoppers pass by the Niketown store in downtown Seattle on Dec. 20, 2005. . (TED S. WARREN / FILE Associated Press)
Shoppers pass by the Niketown store in downtown Seattle on Dec. 20, 2005. . (TED S. WARREN / FILE Associated Press)
Associated Press

BEND, Ore. – Washington state voters are considering ending the sales tax exemption their neighbors in Oregon currently enjoy.

The Bulletin of Bend reported that the Washington initiative would get rid of the tax exemption that allows residents from states without sales tax, such as Oregon, to skirt paying one in Washington.

If Washington’s Initiative 1464 passes in November, Oregon residents will go from paying no sales taxes on common retail goods in Washington to paying a combined 8.89 percent for state and local sales taxes. Big purchases such as cars and boats would still be tax free.

Since Oregon and Washington are neighbors, many Washington residents hop the border to purchase basic goods. Washington’s Department of Revenue estimates the state lost around $247 million in tax revenue in 2013-14 when its residents dipped across the border and shopped in Idaho, with lower sales taxes, or Oregon.

“It’s an odd exemption,” said Peter McCollum, campaign manager for the initiative. “Washington’s tax code needs to be updated, and this is going to help clean up politics in Washington.”

The proposal aims to set up publicly funded elections for the state. The initiative would rework the laws governing campaigns and lobbyists in Washington and would give voters $50 vouchers to give legislative candidates who agree to abide by stricter campaign finance limits.

“The goal is to push candidates to put more of a focus on reaching out to their constituents by shifting away from the focus on big donors by lowering the contribution limits,” McCollum said.

The proposed change would also affect residents of Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alaska and Canadian provinces.

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