On June 16, 2017 TEI submitted a letter to Senator Braun and Representative Jinkins of the Washington Legislature urging the legislature to enact Senate Bill 5866, 2nd Substitute (SB 5866). SB 5866 sought to establish an independent tribunal to hear appeals of tax assessments and other matters administered by the Washington Department of Revenue. TEI’s letter noted that the tax court regime proposed by SB 5866 meets many of the attributes TEI deems essential for an independent state tax tribunal – it provides for independence from the Washington State Department of Revenue, requires judicial officers to have expertise in state tax law, and requires the publication of decisions – but only partially eliminates the state’s pay-to-play requirements. TEI letter thus supported the passage of SB 5866 but encouraged the legislature to re-evaluate whether taxpayers must pay taxes, penalties, and interest or post a bond as a prerequisite for a tax court hearing.
TEI's letter was prepared under the aegis of TEI's State and Local Tax Committee, whose chair is Jamie Fenwick. Pilar Mata, TEI Tax Counsel, coordinated the preparation of TEI's letter.