Property owners might be wise to delay paying their 2018 property taxes until after the close of the 2018 legislative session in March, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, said today.
“Democrats are working hard to protect homeowners from the worst impacts of the Republican property tax of 2017,” said Van De Wege, a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee that heard the proposal late Wednesday night. “One of the possibilities is to use the increase in revenues projected by the latest state forecast to transfer funds from the state’s extraordinary revenue growth to offset the size of the tax hikes.”
The proposal comes in response to the 2017 session, when Republicans used their majority control of the Senate to insist on meeting the state’s constitutional duty to fund K-12 education by passing the largest property tax increase in state history. Democrats sought other solutions, such as closing tax loopholes on corporations or imposing a capital gains tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of Washingtonians. Republicans refused to budge, taking the state to within hours of a government shutdown before Democrats relented to avoid the expense and chaos of a shutdown.
Having won majority control of the Senate this year, Democrats now seek ways to shield households from the tax increase. If people pay their property taxes in advance, Van De Wege said, the state has no mechanism to refund that money.
“I would caution people to consider waiting,” Van De Wege said. “We’ll finish our work in Olympia by March 8, and taxes aren’t due until April 30. If we succeed in cutting property taxes, everyone should benefit. But it’s impossible to refund taxes that have already been paid.”