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caption: In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's richest residents, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, would pay a wealth tax on certain financial assets worth more than $1 billion under a proposed bill whose sponsor says she is seeking a fair and equitable tax code.
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In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's richest residents, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, would pay a wealth tax on certain financial assets worth more than $1 billion under a proposed bill whose sponsor says she is seeking a fair and equitable tax code.
Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Tax reform, tenant protection bills still alive in Olympia

Lawmakers in Olympia have spent much of the pandemic trying to write new laws to help people through a difficult time.

Monday was an important day, when many bills die and some move closer to becoming law.

One important bill that survived the day would create a new capital gains tax. Washington State relies a lot on sales tax, and that tends to put most of the tax burden on people with less money.

For example, if a local tech entrepreneur sold more than a quarter million dollars in stock, that money would be taxed at 7% under a capital gains tax. A lot of that money would go to pay for early childhood education.

Another bill would loosen graduation requirements for high school seniors during the pandemic.

Yet another bill that survived defines how quickly landlords can ask tenants to pay back rent after the eviction moratorium expires.

Renters and housing advocates fear landlords will unleash a tidal wave of evictions when the moratorium ends, leaving many people displaced or homeless. At the same time, landlords also have unpaid bills.

Senate Bill 5160 tries to define how much protection to give renters in the difficult period after the pandemic.

The bill instructs landlords to offer a "reasonable" schedule for tenants to pay back rent. Currently, “reasonable” means that each month, tenants would owe their rent — plus 33% more — until they’ve paid the landlord in full.

Lawmakers are still negotiating, so those details could change before the bill becomes law.