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Washington tax break on trade-ins in jeopardy

Washington State lawmakers are considering repealing a law that gives tax breaks on the value of traded-in property, including boats and cars.

The state missed out on $315 million in tax revenue in 2008 and 2009 because of the policy - a lot of money to legislators looking for ways to fix a $2.8 billion shortfall, The News Tribune newspaper reports.

Senate budget writers this week proposed getting rid of the trade-in break to save $92 million next year, one of the largest of 26 tax exemptions they targeted.

"The vast majority of people have no knowledge that they're even being given this incentive," said Sen. Rodney Tom, a Medina Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. "If people can afford a car, they can afford a car."

There are pros and cons to repealing the tax, said Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute, a think tank that has argued for eliminating tax exemptions. It avoids regressive taxation, she said, since it skews toward affecting larger purchases.

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