Tax Justice Case Study

#Taxday2023 was a day to celebrate hard fought victories for tax justice in Washington State. Last month, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld the state’s capital gains excise tax, passed in the legislature in 2021. An added plus –  Washington’s Working Families Tax Credit was finally made available to all state tax filers this year.

This story of recent tax justice wins (a story which is far from over) starts over a decade ago. It features the tireless and persistent efforts of Washington advocates, organizers, community leaders, elected officials, and coalition members. Importantly, this story is set in the state with the most upside-down tax code in the country.

Tax reform in Washington State: From Cultural Third Rail to Common Sense  – a new case study written for theThink Big Narrative Learning Community – tells this remarkable story through the lens of narrative and the role of messaging.

It’s a story of advocates and organizers taking a step back and working in coalition with a commitment to work toward a lasting culture shift. It’s a story of a new strategy that required years of intense research, new organizing and education approaches, and commitments to approaching advocacy differently. And like all true and honest stories, it comes with a list of lessons learned.

How did public sentiment on state taxes shift so dramatically from 64% opposition to the 2010 ballot measure to institute a progressive income tax to only 32% support of a repeal of a capital gains tax in 2022? 

Click here to learn more about the culture change work that created fertile ground on tax reform in Washington – ground  that advocates can continue to build on and that other state advocacy efforts can look to in the context of their own state’s “third rails” and opportunities.