(KOMO Wire Services)
OLYMPIA - The state Supreme Court threw out Washington's estate tax Thursday, causing a potential loss of $430 million over the next two years at a time when lawmakers already are facing a $1.8 billion spending gap.
The unanimous decision by the nine-member court concluded that "when an estate has no federal estate tax, there is no obligation to pay any state estate tax." It ordered a refund of estate taxes collected by the Department of Revenue since Jan. 1, 2002.
The refund could be as high as $150 million, said Mike Gowrylow, a spokesman for the state agency. He said the $430 million includes that refund, and the state's reliance on $277 million that was expected to be collected from 2005 to 2007.
"There is no question in my mind that we have made a difficult budget much, much more difficult," Gov. Christine Gregoire said at a Thursday news conference about her economic development plans.