MILL CREEK, Wash. — The next time you buy something, get ready to pay more.
Starting Saturday, sales taxes are going up in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. It’s a result of the ST3 ballot measure approved in November to expand light rail in those three counties.
Sales taxes will vary from city to city. For example, the sales tax will be 9.3% in Bonney Lake and Orting, but at 9.9% in Puyallup. Seattle and Tacoma will go up to 10.1%, but cities in Snohomish County will see the highest taxes in the state and put them among the highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.
Mill Creek and Lynnwood are tied for the highest sales tax, at 10.4%.
On Friday, business owners in those cities warned customers to brace for the hike starting Saturday.
When voters in King and Snohomish counties passed ST3 (Pierce County voters were outnumbered), they also said yes to a sales tax hike of one-half of 1 percent.
“It will take some time for people to get used to it,” said Terry Moran, owner of Master Cobbler in Mill Creek.
The final sales tax will depend on what the local taxes are already, because it’s a combination of local, state and ST3 taxes.
“It’s unbearable,” Chris Olson said.
For Olson, owner of Seaview GMC Buick in Lynnwood, the blow is even harder than a 10.4% sales tax. That’s because all car sales and leases in the state come with an extra .003 surcharge, meaning the final sales tax at all Lynnwood and Mill Creek dealerships is 10.7%. The surcharge for all car sales, leases and transfers went into effect in 2003.
“The only thing I can do as a business person is just offer as good or better a deal than I always do, take some of the burden,” Olson said.
Alta Thencals, who was shopping in Mill Creek on Friday, told Q13 News that she voted against light rail expansion so the higher taxes are even harder to stomach.
“Our paycheck doesn’t go any higher but the tax money coming out really fast,” Thencals said.
Business owners like Moran hope consumers won’t stay away.
“I think the long-range plan of this whole tax increase, people are going to benefit from it,” Moran said.
Moran says although he is not happy with the higher taxes, he sees the value of investing in mass transit.