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Seattle Times: Washington Should Expect the Unexpected When It Comes to Marijuana Taxes

02 Jun Seattle Times: Washington Should Expect the Unexpected When It Comes to Marijuana Taxes

DON’T envy Steve Lerch.

He is the state official tasked with estimating how much tax revenue Washington’s grand experiment with legal marijuana will yield. As Lerch says, decades of sales- and property-tax data inform his predictive algorithms, but when it comes to legal pot, he has only a few quarters of history.

Nonetheless, the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s latest estimates predict the state will yield an eye-popping $1.1 billion — yes, billion — in marijuana tax revenue over the next four years.

That number, as Lerch says, should be viewed with a great amount of “uncertainty.” No state has tried to estimate marijuana revenue over four years, as Washington’s budget rules require. Yet Senate budget-writers assume every penny will come in. The House budget also takes a rosy view, but with slight differences. If either of these predictions don’t come true, Washington could face a deficit in two years. [Read more of this editorial at the Seattle Times]

 

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