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Sunnyside lawmaker unveils tax relief package to give money back to taxpayers

OLYMPIA - Instead of always taking money from taxpayers, it's time government gave a little back to Washington families, according to Rep. Dan Newhouse. He joined fellow House Republicans today to unveil their plan to ease the tax burden on Washington taxpayers.

The Republican tax relief plan would return some of the current $2 billion surplus by placing a portion in a rainy-day fund, providing for agriculture and business tax relief and sending a tax rebate check back to property owners statewide. Key components of the agriculture tax relief package are bills prime-sponsored by Newhouse (R-Sunnyside).

"Agriculture plays a critical part in the success of Washington's economy. It's the engine that has driven our state's economy for many years," said Newhouse. "It's important to recognize that the agriculture industry consists of both small and large industries, and policy changes must reflect that."

Newhouse is sponsoring legislation to provide a reduced B&O tax rate for custom farming services (House Bill 1587) and legislation to exempt farm machinery and equipment from sales and use taxes (House Bill 1757.)

"Washington is one in only a handful of states that charge sales and use tax for farm equipment. Today's market is global and that impacts the agriculture industry in particular because of our state's close proximity to the Pacific Rim," Newhouse said. "We must have a level playing field with our competition. These bills would help accomplish that goal."

Newhouse said the agriculture industry tax relief package also includes a bill to eliminate penalties and reduce the interest on taxes owed for converted land from open space, and legislation to help keep timber mills open by making them more competitive so they can provide family wage jobs.

The plan also would include a $400 property tax rebate to homeowners. Those claiming the rebate would have the option of keeping it or turning it back to the government, either to the general fund or specifically for spending on their choice of services.

"We are giving taxpayers a choice. They may choose to keep the $400 rebate check to pay for shoes for their kids or for car repairs. Or they may choose to turn it back to state government to spend on state services like education, transportation or health care," said Newhouse. "This entire package is really about empowering taxpayers to have more of a voice in where their hard-earned money is going."

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