• New taxes on recording fees, cell phones poised for votes in Senate
• Escape attention amid proposals for income tax, big new energy taxes
• Would drive up cost of housing, phone service
• Disproportionate impact on working families, low-income households
OLYMPIA – Proposals for big new taxes are getting all the attention at the statehouse this year – but watch out for the little ones. Washington could be in for a $400 million surprise.
A pair of tax proposals poised for votes in the state Senate would add about $400 million to the cost of housing and cell phone service every two years.
“You might not know it, because the media didn’t think it worth covering, but Senate Democrats passed another $400 million in new taxes out of committee this week,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen. “A couple of years ago, this would have been seen as an enormous tax increase. I think it still is.
“But with all the billions in other tax-increase proposals this year, from income taxes to energy taxes, these somehow have escaped attention. I think $400 million is a big deal, and the people ought to know. $400 million here and $400 million there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money.
“Taxes like these add to the burden our majority colleagues are heaping on the working families of our state. It’s time to say no to new taxes and new fees in the state of Washington.”
The two measures were passed with limited public notice Monday by the Senate Ways and Means Committee and have been advanced by the Senate Rules Committee for possible votes on the Senate floor: The measures are:
House Bill 1277 — Increases recording fees for legal documents by $100, for new programs at the Department of Commerce. The new surcharge would raise about $293 million every two years. The surcharge comes in addition to existing state recording-fee surcharges of $103.50. The vast majority of legal documents affected by the surcharges are related to real estate, raising purchasing costs and increasing barriers to homeownership.
House Bill 1477 – Adds a new tax on cell phones costing $116 million every two years. Washington already has the third-highest cell phone taxes in the country, just shy of 20 percent.