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Gates vs. Ballmer on Washington State Income Tax

October 11, 2010

The two heads of Microsoft are finding themselves on opposite sides of a battle in Washington State over the imposition of a state income tax that would apply to only upper-income earners.

Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates and his father William Gates Sr. are supporting Initiative 1098, set to appear on the November ballot. If the initiative passes, a 5 percent tax would be levied on couples who make more than $400,000 or individuals who make more than $200,000, and a 9 percent tax on couples who make more than $1 million or individuals who make more than $500,000. Gates Sr. has even contributed $500,000 to a campaign in support of passing the ballot initiative.

On the opposite side is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who has contributed $100,000 to the Defeat-1098 campaign, according to The company too is on a list of employers who are officially opposed to the tax, according to the Defeat-1098 campaign. Ballmer is joined by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has also given $100,000 to defeat the ballot initiative. Opponents argue that the lack of a statewide income tax is one of the selling points of Washington State and that it would be hard to attract more companies to the state with such a tax. However, Washington State, like most states around the country these days, is struggling to close its budget gap.

This may be the first time Gates and Ballmer find themselves in opposite camps, at least publicly. But it doesn’t mean we’re likely to find one of them switching to a Mac anytime soon.

Comments (2)
An "unfortunate" ramification of taxes is that they support Law Enforcement, Fire Protection Services, Health Protection, Environmental Protection, A Defense Department, as well as that great Liberal initiative of practicing what the "Christian-Judea" pretend to support, the Social Programs which protect those in need.

Perhaps we should go back to the Jungle and Survival of Only the Fittest. Of course, then the Fittest would have to tax themselves for protection or fall prey to the second half of the equation, "Divided We Fall."
Posted by | Thursday, October 14 2010 at 10:57AM ET
I would suggest the Gates family study the history of the US Federal Income Tax. It got started in 1913 with the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution. The public was lead to believe that only the 75,000 richest individuals in the country would be taxed. Today we even have a "Kiddie Tax". The founding fathers understood the tyranny of direct taxation. I guess you can be so wealthy that you become detached from reality.
Posted by cpa32022 | Tuesday, October 12 2010 at 9:31AM ET
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