Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In 2008, the Legislature passed a sales tax rebate program called the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). At the time, the state was facing a $2 billion budget shortfall and needed time for the Department of Revenue to build the system to administer the program, so the Legislature didn’t provide funding for the sales tax rebate. And unfortunately, in the years to follow, state lawmakers still never funded the program — even as economic and budget conditions improved over the past decade.
In my role as ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, I started to ask: why not? With state revenue growing by double-digits annually, tax cuts in any form were long overdue. So, I set out to do it.
Three years ago, I proposed an operating budget on the House floor that would have funded the WFTC for the first time. The proposal failed, but it was the first time funding for the program ever received a vote on the House floor.
In 2021, I introduced an operating budget framework that would have finally funded the WFTC. I also reached across the aisle and asked a Democratic colleague, Rep. My-Linh Thai, to work on House Bill 1297, which implemented and expanded the program. When the bill came to the House floor, I forced a vote on making funding for the program automatic and permanent. This time, my amendment was successful. The bill passed the House 94-2 and the Senate 47-2, and was signed into law by the Governor.
I’m happy to report that applications for the WFTC opened for the first time last Wednesday. Individuals and families can now receive up to $1,200 back if eligibility requirements are met. To learn more, please visit this Department of Revenue webpage.
Expanding the Working Families Tax Credit
In my last email update, I shared some of the bills I am sponsoring this year. One of them was House Bill 1000, which would expand the WFTC by doubling the amount of the tax rebate for families with children and dramatically increasing the number of families who qualify. The measure received a public hearing in the House Finance Committee last Tuesday. You can watch my remarks here.
I appreciate the recent coverage from The News Tribune and The Seattle Times on this legislation and program. With a budget surplus in the neighborhood of $4 billion, state lawmakers have an opportunity to provide even more help to working families and should consider additional tax-relief proposals for Washingtonians who continue to face high inflation and economic uncertainty.