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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."

Washington Estate Tax Refunds Halted After Midnight Bill Signing

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

There were dramatic developments in Olympia overnight. Governor Jay Inslee held a midnight bill signing to amend Washington’s estate tax. The move means the Department of Revenue will not begin to issue refund checks Friday morning to the heirs of some multi-million dollar estates.

The state of Washington was about to embark on a months-long process of refunding an estimated $140 million to more than 100 estates. This was the result of a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year. The money would have come out of a fund dedicated to public schools.

At the same time the Supreme Court has also said Washington is underfunding education.

At the midnight bill signing, Democrat Inslee praised the so-called estate tax “fix” as good for kids and good for small, family-owned businesses that will now get a new deduction. As for the refunds, the first ten checks were locked in a safe and ready to go in the mail this morning. But with the stroke of the Governor’s pen they will not be put in the mail.

Critics say the estate tax “fix” is unfair because it taxes families retroactively. And they predict it will be challenged in court and ultimately overturned.

On the Web:

Gov. Inslee's statement on estate tax legislation - Office of the Governor

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."