Schoesler calls for sales-tax freeze to help consumers amid record inflation

Following last week’s announcement that state government is projected to collect $1.46 billion in tax revenue this biennium beyond what was already expected, 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler is calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to bring the Legislature back to Olympia for a special session to pass a bill creating a state sales-tax suspension for Washingtonians who are struggling because of ongoing historic inflation.

“If Governor Inslee and Democratic leaders in Congress like Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer think a gas-tax holiday is a bad idea, let’s focus on suspending the state sales tax for Washingtonians,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “It’s a fast and simple solution to help consumers in our state who are battling record inflation, and it would address what many people call a regressive tax. If the governor likes gas prices as high as they are, let’s offer tax relief in a different way. And let’s do it soon.”

Schoesler said a state sales-tax suspension is an idea supported by at least one Democratic state senator, as well as the Washington Policy Center.

Schoesler said a state sales-tax freeze would be especially good for border communities like Spokane, Pullman, Clarkston, Goldendale and Vancouver. Businesses suffer when residents in those cities cross the border to buy goods and products in Idaho and Oregon, which don’t have a state sales tax.

“Let’s drop the state sales tax by a percentage point,” said Schoesler. “Hopefully, we can do it permanently. If not, we could at least continue a sales-tax suspension until the Legislature decides that inflation is no longer a burden on Washington families and individuals.”

Schoesler pointed to a comment made last week by Dr. Steve Lerch, director of the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council: “Continued strong revenue collections and high inflation have again resulted in increases in the revenue forecast.”

“What his comment means is that our state is basically making even more money in taxes due to higher prices caused by inflation,” said Schoesler. “It’s wrong and immoral for the state to more or less make a profit off the backs of taxpayers due to record inflation. Our governor needs to realize this and finally support tax relief for Washingtonians instead of treating them like an ATM for his spending agenda.”

Schoesler first called for Inslee and the Legislature to provide tax relief for Washingtonians last December after consumers throughout the U.S. were forced to pay higher prices on many items in 2021, including food, energy, new automobiles, medical care and shelter.

“Whatever salary increases people have received in the past year or two, that extra earning power has been more than wiped out by the staggering inflation we’ve all had to endure. This has made it harder for families and individuals to make ends meet. It’s time for Olympia to address it.”

Schoesler serves on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which addresses budget and tax issues.