SB 5541

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As of January 29, 2019

Title: An act relating to creating a state revenue reform task force.

Brief Description: Creating a state revenue reform task force.

Sponsors: Senators Hasegawa, Darneille, Hunt and Nguyen.

Brief History:

Committee Activity: Ways & Means: 1/30/19.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Creates the state revenue reform task force.


Staff: Alia Kennedy (786-7405)

Background: Taxes are an important revenue source for Washington State and comprise almost all of the general fund, but slightly less than 50 percent of all revenues. Other sources of revenue include federal and other grants, license and permit fees, charges for services, and borrowing. Washington State relies on the sales tax, the business and occupation tax, and property tax. Unlike most states, Washington State does not have either a personal or corporate net income tax.

In 2001, the Legislature directed the Department of Revenue (DOR) to convene the Washington State Tax Structure Study Committee. The committee was charged with reviewing how well the current tax system functions and how it might be changed to better serve the citizens of the state in the twenty-first century, and developing multiple alternatives to the existing tax system. A report of committee findings and recommendations, titled Tax Alternatives for Washington State, was submitted to the Legislature on November 30, 2002.

Summary of Bill: A legislative task force on state revenue reform is established.

All member appointments or selections must be made by July 1, 2019, as follows:

The task force must also include:

The task force may convene an advisory group to include:

The task force must choose its chair from among its legislative membership. The chair must convene at least three task force meetings.

DOR must provide staff support for the task force.

The purpose of the task force is to review the state tax system and make recommendations to the Legislature on a comprehensive state revenue reform plan to better serve the people of the state. The task force must consider in its review and recommendations the following:

The task force must be guided by certain defined criteria, including the elasticity, economic neutrality, fairness, administrative simplicity, and transparency of possible tax system alternatives.

Members of the task force must serve without compensation, but will be reimbursed for travel expenses. The expenses of the task force must be paid jointly by the Senate and the House of Representatives and are subject to approval by the appropriate committees.

The task force must submit a final report of recommendations to the Legislature by December 1, 2019.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on January 23, 2019.

Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: Yes.

Effective Date: The bill contains an emergency clause and takes effect on July 1, 2019.