Washington State Senate Bill Aims to Increase Tax Transparency
Is there anything more infuriating than trying to find what department is assessing a tax on something you own (like your house) and not being able to find it? A pair of State Senators are attempting to clear some of that confusion.
A bipartisan bill filed in the State Senate would increase tax transparency at the state and local levels. SB 5158 is co-sponsored by 17th District Sen. Lynda Wilson R-Vancouver and 23rd District Sen. Christine Rolfes D-Bainbridge Island. The two are the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The goal of the bill is to increase "the ease of public access to state and local tax information" by adding to the State's already existing searchable website, fiscal.wa.gov, that was created after unanimously adopted by the legislature in 2008 through Senate Bill 6818.
This bill would add a few more resources for tax payers to help them figure out how much, and from where, they are being taxed. One new tool would be the creation of a tax calculator to help residents add up potential taxes. The calculator would need to be provided for property, sales and use, business and occupation, vehicle, and other business taxes.
It must also be specific to the rate for the taxing district where the person using the tool resides. The bill specifically states that the calculators are to be provided for "educational purposes only" and do not have a legal impact on taxes due.
SB 5158 goes on to require that the taxing districts ( of which there are roughly 1,800) to submit their tax rates to the Department of Revenue by the end of September, 2023 and must report a change to a rate 30 days before the rate takes effect.
The bill goes on to establish criteria for the use, contents, and accountability of the website. SB 5158 was pre-filed January 5th and had it's first reading on january 9th, the first day of the Legislative Session. As of this writing it has not been scheduled for a hearing and public comment.
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