New bill would ensure transparency of state and local taxes »Publications» Washington Policy Center

How much do you pay in taxes and what level of government imposes this tax burden? A new bill would help answer this question by creating a searchable database on state and local taxes. Here is the intent section for SB 5831 – Concerning the transparency of national and local taxation:

“The intention of the legislature is to make national and local tax revenues as open, transparent and accessible to the public as possible. Increasing the ease of public access to national and local tax information significantly contributes to government accountability, public participation and open government; this is especially true when information is currently available from disparate government sources, but it is difficult for the public to collect and aggregate it effectively. “

There are approximately 1,800 tax districts in the state whose officials impose various taxes on Washingtonians. However, there is no single resource to help individuals and businesses know which tax districts and tax rates they are subject to, and how much officials in each tax district add to their total tax burden. . A typical house, for example, can be located in up to ten different tax districts.

SB 5831 would be based on the searchable state budget website (fiscal.wa.gov) to help provide Washingtonians with an important tax transparency resource. SB 5831 would also require that an educational tax burden calculator be available. Extract from article 2 of the bill:

“The ministry is also to provide searchable database-based tax rate calculators to enable taxpayers to calculate their potential taxes. Calculators should be provided at a minimum for property, sales and use, business and occupancy, vehicle and other trade taxes and should be specific to the rate of the tax district in which the taxpayer resides. . The calculator may only be used for educational purposes and has no legal effect on taxes owed.

Increasing the ease of public access to national and local tax rates would build confidence in government and increase public understanding of the cost of government services. Increased transparency would also facilitate significant tax competition between tax districts, as taxpayers could compare different tax burdens depending on where they decide to live or set up their businesses.

By creating an online searchable database of all state tax rates for each tax district, as proposed in SB 5831, policymakers would make taxation more transparent and help citizens learn more about what government decisions mean their wallets, thus helping to unravel the mystery surrounding taxation. .

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