Rich and Famous Take Sides on Washington's Income Tax Initiative
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
They may be affiliated with the same tech giant, but Microsoft founder Bill Gates Jr. and the firm's CEO, Steve Ballmer, are lining up on opposite sides of a November ballot initiative that would create an income tax for the wealthiest residents of Washington State.
Initiative 1098 would enact a 5-percent tax rate on annual income exceeding $200,000 a year for individuals and $400,000 for couples, along with a 9-percent rate on annual income exceeding $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples. (Washington is one of nine states without an income tax.) The measure also would cut state property taxes by 20 percent and exempt more than 100,000 businesses from a gross receipts tax known as the "business and occupation tax."
According to The Seattle Times , the fight over Initiative 1098 already has attracted more than $7 million in contributions, and some of the state's heaviest hitters are taking part. The paper reported that Ballmer has contributed $100,000 to defeat the initiative, and another familiar tech CEO, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, also has contributed $100,000.
The Yes on 1098 campaign certainly will benefit from the endorsement of Gates, one of the wealthiest men in America - even though it is not yet clear whether he has contributed any money, according to an account today (Sept. 22) in The Times . Gates' father, Seattle lawyer Bill Gates Sr., is supporting the initiative and has contributed $500,000.