Paying their fair share of taxes: Ad features Auburn business owner

An Auburn coffee roaster is one of four small business owners in the area who appear in a new video ad, pressing state lawmakers to kick-start the state’s economy by making the wealthiest “pay their fair share of taxes.”

In his piece, Dan Olmstead, owner since 1997 of Poverty Bay Coffee Company in northeast Auburn, said money is stuck at the top because his big corporate competitors pay the same tax rate, or even less, than guys like him pay.

“Big corporations should pay their share like the rest of us. It’s the only way we will kick-start our economy and keep Washington a great place for everyone,” Olmstead said.

Olmstead said he supports the campaign not because of concerns about his bottom line or because he wants to pay less and make the big guys pay more, but because of the broader issue of fairness and the taxes everybody pays.

“As a small business owner, I don’t mind paying the taxes that I pay, and I don’t think the tax system is necessarily unfair to businesses like mine,” Olmstead, told the Auburn Reporter on Feb. 9. “My belief — and the reason I support this — is that there are people on the margins. We have the homeless crisis, obviously we have a health crisis going on, and I am just a firm believer that people at the top have a larger responsibility to pay their fair share.”

“This is an attempt, a step in the direction of equity,” said Olmstead.

Invest in Washington Now put out the ad.

State legislators held hearings this week on bills to raise billions for public health, early learning, and small business assistance through changes to large estate taxes and taxing extraordinary profits and capital gains.

Appearing with Olmstead are Aaron Verzosa, chef and owner of Archipelago, a Filipino-American restaurant in Seattle’s Hillman neighborhood; Karla Esquivel, owner of Andaluz, a gift shop in Columbia City; and the owners of Ice Cream Social in Tacoma.

“Economists estimate every dollar spent by the state generates up to three dollars in local communities,” Verzosa said in the ad. “We need to keep that money flowing, especially in neighborhoods of color, where small businesses provide good jobs and community.”

“If the wealthy pay their share, we’ll have an economic recovery that works for all of us. Money flowing through our community keeps people working and lets us invest in schools and business. That means more jobs and more business,” Verzosa added.

“Increasing spending is good for small businesses like mine because our customers will be able to buy a puzzle, necklace, or funny card. It doesn’t sound like much, but it keeps small businesses’ doors open. That’s good for employees and neighborhoods,” said Esquivel.

In a recent letter to legislators, more than 40 small business owners, including the owners of some of the state’s best restaurants such as Loulay in Seattle, are also calling for changes to the state’s regressive tax system so that the lowest income families no longer pay the biggest share for the state’s hospitals, roads and schools.

“Washington’s system pits students, patients, and the most vulnerable against each other in a mad budget scramble every year,” said Treasure Mackley, Executive Director of Invest in Washington Now. “The pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable we all are. Voters and economists agree it’s time for those who’ve done well in Washington to do right by Washington.”

In a December 2020 survey of 500 Washington voters, an overwhelming 76% support increasing taxes specifically on wealthy individuals and corporations. The same number say that “the wealthiest should pitch in a little more in taxes,” with more than half (54%) agreeing strongly with this statement.