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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Deal Struck To Prevent Washington Estate Tax Refunds

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Washington House Finance Chairman Reuven Carlyle. Credit: Washington Legislature

The Washington House and Senate have struck a deal that would forestall having to issue estate tax refunds starting Friday morning. House Democrats quickly passed the tax rewrite in response to an unfavorable court decision.

But the mostly Republican-controlled Senate has not yet voted. House Finance Chair Reuven Carlyle portrays it as a choice between money for school kids or refunds for wealthy estates.

“And if they get a windfall in the forms of tens of millions of dollars, it comes directly from classrooms," Carlyle says. "Not indirectly, not figuratively, literally out of the educational legacy trust fund which funds public education in this state.”

Senate Republicans say they’re pleased the estate tax measure includes a new deduction for small, family-owned businesses. But they don’t necessarily share the sense of urgency to act before the refund checks are scheduled to go in the mail.

Meanwhile estate tax attorneys are weighing in forcefully. They argue the legislature’s so-called “fix” is a retroactive tax that won’t hold up in the courts.