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Washington Governor Announces Tax Relief Measures

Posted on Mar. 23, 2020

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has announced new tax relief measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a March 18 release, Inslee’s office outlined additional measures being undertaken in response to the crisis, including the Department of Revenue waiving or suspending penalties and interest “on certain late tax payments.”

“The state will create payment plans on the core amount businesses owe without filing tax liens in federal courts,” according to the release. “This also means the suspension of enforcement actions such as forced collections by seizing bank accounts.”

The state will waive late-filing fees for property tax exemption renewals and business license renewals, and interest on the state business and occupations (B&O) tax and the tax on real estate sales, among other taxes administered by the DOR.

The tax-related measures are in place for at least 30 days and are “retroactive to Feb. 29, the date the governor initially declared a state of emergency,” according to Inslee’s office.

The state will also allocate up to $5 million in grants from the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund to help small businesses threatened by the steps Washington took to contain the spread of the virus.

“Businesses across our economy are impacted by closures and social distancing requirements right now,” Inslee said. “We do not take lightly the impact this has on businesses.”

The one-week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance will also be waived, retroactive for claims filed March 8. Inslee's office said it is also working to obtain federal relief for businesses and individuals.

Jason Mercier, with the conservative Washington Policy Center, said in a March 18 statement that Inslee’s actions are “a good start,” but advocated for more B&O tax relief.

Inslee “waives the B&O penalties and fees for a limited time period but not the total liability for the tax owed,” Mercier said. “The governor could signal now his support for totally waiving the tax liability when the legislature next meets . . . so employers impacted by his Proclamation 20-13 know the B&O tax relief will eventually be coming.”

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