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Washington: Two-thirds Majority Required to Raise Taxes

  • Nov 14, 2012 | Gail Cole

Washington voters have decided the state Legislature needs a two-thirds majority in order to raise taxes. It's the fifth time they've "enacted or reaffirmed the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases." Similar initiatives were approved by voters in 1993, 1998, 2007, and 2010. Washington lawmakers may suspend the rule with a simple majority vote after two years.

The Washington Secretary of State website released the following ballot measure summary for Initiative 1185, which was sponsored by conservative political activist Tim Eyman:

"This measure would restate the existing statutory requirement that any action or combination of actions by the legislature that raises taxes must be approved by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature or approved in a referendum to the people."

Pursuant to Initiative 1185, "'raises taxes' means any action or combination of actions by the state legislature that increases state tax revenue deposited in any fund, budget, or account, regardless of whether the revenues are deposited into the general fund."

The Washington Policy Center, which supported Initiative 1185, lists the other states that require a supermajority to raise certain taxes:

  • Alabama (constitutional amendment required to raise state income and property taxes)
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado (voter approval required to raise taxes)
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri (voter approval required to raise taxes above a set revenue cap)
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin

The Washington Supreme Court is currently considering a constitutional challenge to a similar initiative that passed in 2010.

Read the full text of Initiative Measure 1185.

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.