SEATTLE – It’s like juggling three flaming torches – Washington legislators can make further cuts to state services and programs, enact tax increases or close tax loopholes. This week at a special session, the lawmakers will try to agree on a combination of actions to balance the state budget without burning anyone.
The group Fuse Washington is making a last-minute pitch for one action in particular: HB 3176, a bill that would end a tax exemption for the largest banks that allows them not to pay taxes on interest earned from first mortgages.
[Editor’s note: HB 3176 ends a number of tax exemptions that, according to the bill’s fiscal note, would return $404.8 million dollars in 2010-11, $940.3 million in 2011-13, and $1.18 billion (with a b) in 2013-15. That’s $2.5 billion dollars over the next five years, if you’re doing the math…]
Jim Dawson, the group’s organizing director, says the exemption was made 40 years ago to help Washington-based national banks compete for mortgage business with out-of-state rivals, but the banking market has changed.