Many of Washington’s counties struggle to fight high unemployment as other local governments in Washington fight to tax job growth and drive business away.


A tax credit proposal by Sen. Steve O’Ban aims to stimulate rural job growth with a $275 business and occupation tax credit to employers for each new qualifying job they create in those counties struggling the most, beginning in July 2019.


The tax credit would apply in counties with an unemployment rate in the preceding year that exceeds the statewide unemployment rate by 25 percent. To qualify for the credit, a job position would have to pay more than the county’s average wage. O’Ban is preparing a bill for the tax credit for the 2019 legislative session.


“Washington shouldn’t lose jobs because our largest city’s tax policy punishes job growth. If employers want to relocate, they should know that other counties are business-friendly and welcoming,” said O’Ban, R-University Place.


“Our rural counties have low housing costs and a low cost of living,” O’Ban added. King County’s prosperity should be their prosperity, too. Concentrating our jobs in one metro area isn’t in the best interest of the state. It benefits everyone to encourage companies to move out into rural areas. No one’s going to have to sit in a two-hour commute or pay a toll in Aberdeen.”


“This tax credit – or ‘head tax’ credit – will do the opposite of Seattle’s job tax. It will reward, rather than place a bounty on employers for hiring more Washingtonians. And it requires companies to pay above-average wages to qualify.”


Counties initially affected by the tax credit include Clallam, Cowlitz, Ferry, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Skamania, Wahkiakum and Yakima.