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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Anti-tax group calls out Wilkerson for unpaid taxes, which she says were an innocent mistake

Spokane City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson announces her bid to become City Council president during her campaign kickoff March 10 at the Carl Maxey Center in the East Central Neighborhood.  (Colin Tiernan/The Spokesman-Review)

Until Monday, City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson, a candidate for City Council President, says she didn’t realize that she owed back taxes on an East Central rental property she owns.

She found out after the Tacoma-based Concerned Taxpayers of Washington issued a press release that same day decrying Wilkerson for failing to pay her property taxes, as well as for her votes in favor of raising taxes.

“It is bad enough that Betsy Wilkerson, as an elected official and a candidate for Spokane City Council President, is dodging her property taxes,” said Steve Gordon, founder and Executive Director of Concerned Taxpayers of Washington. “But even worse, time and time again, Wilkerson has voted to increase our taxes and spend our taxpayer dollars frivolously, all while failing to pay them herself.”

In a brief interview, Wilkerson said the unpaid taxes from 2022 and the first half of 2023 were the result of a miscommunication with a property management company.

“I thought taxes were going to them, they thought they were coming to me, and apparently they were actually going to the renter, the actual house,” she said. “It truly was one of those innocent ‘who’s on first’ kind of things that slipped through the cracks.”

The back taxes have now been paid in full, according to the Spokane County Treasurer’s website. The second half of 2023 taxes, which are not due until October, have also been paid for all three of Wilkerson’s properties. Wilkerson said she has not been late on other property taxes in the last 10 years.

In criticizing her tax stances as a councilwoman, the group pointed to Wilkerson’s votes in favor of increasing the city’s 2023 property tax levy, which passed 5-2 and increased property taxes by a few dollars for most homeowners, and in 2020 to increase sales taxes by one-tenth of 1% to fund the development and operation of affordable housing projects. That sales tax hike passed 6-1.

Concerned Taxpayers of Washington, founded by Gordon in 2018, opposes tax increases and has raised more than $1.7 million in the last five years in support of conservative candidates and in opposition to liberal candidates.

Wilkerson questioned opposition to the sales taxes collected to fund affordable housing.

“Now all the anti-tax folks are the first ones to the trough to spend that money, which is needed, but it’s a little disingenuous that they fought us so hard on it, and it’s the only money available for that purpose,” she said.