Washington Estate Tax Refund Halted After Midnight Bill Signing

By Austin Jenkins

There were dramatic developments in Olympia overnight. Gov. Jay Inslee held a midnight bill signing to amend Washington's estate tax. The eleventh-hour move means the Department of Revenue will not begin to issue refund checks this 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 an unfavorable 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. 

Washington lawmakers pose with Governor Jay Inslee after a midnight bill signing to avert a costly estate tax refund program. Photo by Austin Jenkins"OK, it's great news tonight," Inslee said. 

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," Inslee said. 

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

Washington lawmakers pose with Governor Jay Inslee after a midnight bill signing to avert a costly estate tax refund program. Photo by Austin Jenkins
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