Letter | Thinking about sales taxes
March 1, 2011 · 11:42 AM
When parents buy a mattress for a new baby’s crib they have to pay sales tax on it — but a farmer doesn’t have to pay sales tax on bedding materials for chickens because our state provides a B&O Sales Tax exemption for that.
I suppose a sales tax exemption on bedding materials for chickens helps the poultry industry … it probably even helps the chickens! But what I can’t see is how it serves the public interest.
The state is currently losing $180,000 a year in revenue to this one sales tax exemption, and hundreds of millions more on a long list of other exemptions and subsidies.
I once owned a sole-proprietorship business and found the B&O system “quirky.” Like most businesspeople, it wasn’t paying the taxes that I didn’t like — I appreciate the need to help fund the public services that help make our state the third best in the nation for business according to Forbes Magazine.
What most people don’t like is the need to scour the rules so they don’t miss out on some obscure loophole or subsidy that might save them some money, or the idea that they’re paying their share and someone else isn’t.
At a time when the Legislature is seriously considering cutting the basic health plan in order to save money, they should first consider cutting things like the sales tax exemption to the financial services industry that costs us taxpayers millions a year in lost revenue.
Washington Public Interest Research Group