Schoesler bill banning ‘jobs tax’ statewide receives committee hearing

The Senate Local Government Committee held a public hearing today on Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler’s bill to prohibit local governments from imposing a tax on jobs. The bill reflects a promise Schoesler made when a so-called “head tax” was approved, then repealed, by the Seattle City Council in mid-2018.

Schoesler’s proposal, Senate Bill 5589, would prohibit local taxes based on employee wages, employee hours or the number of employment positions initially enacted on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

“This was a highly publicized tax issue in the interim, and I said I would introduce legislation to make sure this wouldn’t happen again,” Schoesler told the committee. “In many cases, they said it was just one large city that was going to do this. You then ask yourself, ‘Who else would do this regressive tax that sends a message that Washington is not a good place to do business?’ I believe this is a good bill that sends a message that Washington is a good place to do business, or grow or expand business, without the threat of regressive taxes.”

Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said his bill makes it clear that any future taxing of jobs would be illegal.

“It’s wrong for any city in Washington to undermine the jobs that working families depend on simply because of political ideology and a thirst for more revenue,” said the 9th District senator.

Schoesler told the panel his bill would exempt cities that already collect an employee tax – in place of a B&O tax or business licenses, for example. “Those cities are grandfathered in for good reasons,” added Schoesler.

An official from the Association of Washington Business testified in favor of SB 5589.