Washington taxes most regressive in nation.

A recent report from the nonprofit Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) tagged Washington as the state where the tax system most strongly favors high-income residents. Including the impact of tax changes through January 2, 2013, the ITEP report found that the Washington residents in the bottom 20% of the income distribution paid 16.9% of their income for state and local taxes, compared to 2.8% of income paid by those in the top 1% (a 6-fold difference). Middle-income residents didn’t do much better, paying 10.4% of their income for taxes, almost 4 times the share of the top earners. To see the full report, click here. Go to page 119 for charts showing the distribution of taxes in Washington State. For data on King County, see the Communities Count Income section.

Raising retirement age boosts high-income advantage

The Washington Post reported on an often-overlooked implication of raising the eligibility ages for Medicare and Social Security: Because life expectancy has increased differentially for those at the upper end of the income spectrum, lower-income workers could receive fewer lifetime benefits.  The article quoted Monique Morrissey, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute: “Life expectancy has increased mainly among the privileged class,” Morrissey said. “For many people, raising the retirement age would amount to a significant benefit cut.” Read full story here.
Substantial life-expectancy differences exist among King County 65-year-olds, depending on where they live. At the top end are residents of Mercer Island, with an average of 23.8 additional years (88.9 years total). In contrast, residents of South Auburn can look forward to living only 17.4 more years (82.4 years). To see life expectancy data on more King County cities, click here; scroll down to Health outcomes/Overall health; click on “Life expectancy at age 65; and at the bottom of the spreadsheet open second tab (Health Reporting Areas).