Washington State’s capital gains tax proves we can have nice things

We just need to tax the rich.

Cory Doctorow
6 min readJun 3, 2023


The Washington State flag; the circular device featuring George Washington has been altered so that it is now the head of a naked man clothed in a barrel with two wide leather shoulder straps.

Today (June 3) at 1:30PM, I’m in Edinburgh for the Cymera Festival on a panel with Nina Allen and Ian McDonald.

Monday (June 5) at 7:15PM, I’m in London at the British Library with my novel Red Team Blues, hosted by Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

Washington State enacted a 7% capital gains tax levied on annual profits in excess of $250,000, and made a fortune, $600m more than projected in the first year, despite a 25% drop in the stock market and blistering interest rate hikes:


Capital gains taxes are levied on “passive income” — money you get for owning stuff. The capital gains rate is much lower than the income tax rate — the rate you pay for doing stuff. This is naked class warfare: it punishes the people who make things and do things, and rewards the people who own the means of production.

The thing is, a factory or a store can still operate if the owner goes missing — but without workers, it shuts down immediately. Everything you depend on — the clothes on your back, the food in your fridge, the car you drive and the coffee you drink — exists because someone did…