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Let’s Go Washington submits 857K signatures to repeal capital gains tax, ban new income tax

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(The Center Square) – It wasn’t Santa Claus delivering Christmas presents, but on Thursday afternoon, voter advocacy group Let’s Go Washington turned in 419,699 signatures for Initiative 2010, which would repeal the capital gains tax, and 437,960 signatures for Initiative 2111, which would prohibit income taxes at the city and county level.

“It’s a lot,” deadpanned Glen Morgan, founder of the “We The Governed” website, when asked to comment on the turn-in of signatures at the Secretary of State’s office in Tumwater.

Let’s Go Washington founder and Republican donor Brian Heywood of Redmond spoke about his motivation for the two initiatives.

“Why am I doing this?” he asked. “Because I grew up poor. I grew up poor in Arizona, and I believe…that the ‘American Dream’ is real and it’s the coolest freakin’ thing on Earth. It doesn’t matter where you’re born or how poor you are or what station in life or what your status is, if you want to, you can find opportunities in this fantastic country to do things that no one else can do and you can change your station.”

Washington voters have directly voted down an income tax 10 times at the ballot box over the past 100 years, in 1934, 1936, 1938, 1942, 1944, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1982 and 2010.

“How many times do voters need to tell lawmakers to stop with income taxes once and for all?” Heywood said. “Once politicians’ budgets take a hit from people like Bezos taking their money to Florida, who do you think will be the target of the next big tax? Small business owners, homeowners, young entrepreneurs, hard-working restaurant and family farm employers and regular, hardworking taxpayers.”

Heywood was making reference to billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announcing in November that he plans to move from Washington to Florida to be closer to his parents.

In January 2022, Washington implemented a 7% tax on the sale of financial assets despite a legal challenge. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the capital gains tax.

“Well, I mean this is a Christmas present for all taxpayers of Washington state,” initiatives sponsor Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, and chair of the Washington State Republican Party, told The Center Square.

He said ordinary people aren’t buying the narrative of the capital gains tax proponents that the rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

“They know the capital gains tax is an income tax, and they know there’s a slippery slope,” Walsh continued. “They’re going to keep a high threshold initially.”

That’s a reference to at least one Democrat – Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle – saying in emails and at at least one public meeting that he would like to leverage a capital gains tax into a general income tax in Washington.

Invest in Washington Now, which describes itself as a progressive revenue solutions organization, decried the signature-gathering efforts.

“I-2109 would repeal the capital gains tax on the super-rich, taking more than $900 million from education and child care funding to line the pockets of WA’s wealthiest,” Invest in Washington Now Executive Director Treasure Mackley said in an email blast.

She went on to claim, “I-2111 would slash benefits that Washingtonians are counting on, like paid family leave and long-term care benefits.”

Initiatives are required to receive nearly 325,000 verified signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Assuming the two initiatives qualify with enough valid signatures, lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled Legislature have several options: pass them during the upcoming legislative session; take no action and let them go to the ballot; or pass alternative proposals, which would see both initiatives and the alternative proposals placed on the ballot at the next state general election in 2024.

Let’s Go Washington has previously turned in signatures for initiatives to repeal Washington’s cap-and-trade program; provide parents and guardians with a right to review educational materials, receive certain notifications, and opt out of certain sexual health education programs; and remove certain restrictions on police officers’ ability to engage in vehicular pursuits.

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