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Congress passes key tax bill, will allow Washingtonians to deduct state sales tax on April’s tax filings 

Bill also extends key tax credits for hiring veterans, producing clean energy and building low-income housing

***VIDEO AVAILABLE***

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded U.S. Senate passage of a tax bill that will enable Washingtonians to claim the state and local sales tax deduction on their 2014 federal income taxes. The bill, the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, also includes other critical Cantwell priorities including tax credits for hiring veterans, building low-income housing and producing clean energy.

The tax bill passed the Senate by a margin of 76 to 16. It has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now goes to President Obama’s desk for signature. Washington is among eight states that don’t have an income tax and, therefore, taxpayers can’t claim an income tax deduction on their federal returns. Congress let the sales tax deduction expire at the end of 2013, which left its future in doubt.

Cantwell, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, helped to craft the Senate package of tax extenders, which passed the Committee in April. She fought for the sales tax deduction’s inclusion in the bill.

“Tonight, we can say that Washingtonians can take the sales receipts they have this year and make sure they are deducted from their tax obligations for 2014,” Cantwell said in a Senate floor speech tonight. “I hope we’ll be here someday when we can get permanent tax fairness into the code. That means a permanent provision so we don’t have to come back here every year and get the tax fairness our states deserve. Let’s make sure we take these provisions that are so important for our economy to move forward to give the taxpayers predictability and certainty.”

Video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech is available here.

Since 2004, Cantwell has led bipartisan efforts to ensure the sales tax deduction remains in effect and to provide tax fairness for taxpayers in Washington state and other states that don’t have an income tax, and therefore, can’t claim a state income tax deduction. Cantwell has repeatedly introduced legislation to make the deduction permanent, including an amendment earlier in 2014 in the Senate Finance Committee. Cantwell fought to get a two-year extension of the sales tax deduction in the deal that Congress reached Jan. 1, 2013, to avert the fiscal cliff.

About 900,000 Washington state taxpayers took advantage of the state sales tax deduction in 2012, reducing their taxable income by $1.9 billion, according to IRS data. Washington state taxpayers saved an average of $602 with the state sales tax deduction in 2012, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report. Washington is among eight states, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming, in which taxpayers don’t pay a state income tax, and therefore, can’t claim an income tax deduction on their tax returns.

“The state and local sales tax deduction promotes economic growth across Washington,” said Lori Mattson, President & CEO of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.  “The deduction ensures hundreds of millions of dollars stay in our state and are spent locally.  As the fastest-growing community in Washington, this has a huge impact on local jobs and businesses in the Tri-Cities.”

“Continuing the deduction for state sales taxes paid will enable more dollars to be retained by taxpayers and circulated back into our local economy resulting in a positive economic stimulus,” said Chuck Zimmerman, President of the Board of Directors, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“This keeps us on equal footing with those in other states who can deduct an income tax, but it also benefits Washington businesses by removing what would otherwise be a financial incentive to customers to shop across state lines,” said Verlynn Best, President and CEO of the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce.

 “In Walla Walla, this means that our residents will have more disposable income to spend at the small businesses that employ the vast majority of our friends and neighbors, and that make our town the community that it is,” said David Woolson, President and CEO of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce. “For this reason, the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce appreciates all of the hard work that our Congressional delegation is putting in to ensure that the state and local tax deduction is extended and/or made permanent.”

The legislation includes several other tax provisions championed by Senator Cantwell that are critical to Washington state, including:

  • Veterans’ Work Opportunity Tax Credit: The legislation includes a one-year extension of a tax incentive that helped Washington state employers hire 16,000 veterans since October 2012. It encourages businesses to hire returning veterans through a tax credit of up to $9,600.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit: This provision is designed to get more affordable housing built in hard-to-serve areas and challenging areas due to high costs. Since the program was created in 1986, it has helped finance more than 2.4 million affordable apartments nationwide, including more than 56,000 in Washington, and has supported 95,000 jobs annually – many of which are in the small business sector.

“The economy in this state benefits highly from low-income tax credits, both for the housing units that have been built and the jobs that have been created in their construction,” said Karen Miller, Chairwoman of the Washington State Housing and Finance Commission.

  • New Markets Tax Credit:  This provision encourages investment in economically challenged areas. Cantwell is a long-time supporter of the New Markets Tax Credit, which has supported thousands of jobs in Washington state and more than 350,000 jobs across the nation. In Washington state, between 2003 and 2010, $650 million in NMTC investments leveraged more than $1.2 billion in total project investments and helped create nearly 6,000 full-time jobs and 8,000 construction jobs.

“New Markets Tax Credits are a valuable tool we use to attract companies bringing family-wage jobs to our lower-income communities,” said Todd Coleman, Executive Director of the Port of Vancouver. “A great example is Farwest Steel, a company that, with the help of new markets tax credits, built a facility at the Port of Vancouver in 2010 and now employs more than 250 people.”

  • Energy production: The legislation extends for one year a tax incentive to encourage production of wind and solar energy. Earlier this year, Cantwell introduced a bipartisan amendment with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to extend the wind production tax credit for another two years.

“Wind Energy development has had a dramatic impact on our rural community. It has almost tripled our tax base, created new living wage jobs, brought new revenue to farmers, and expanded economic activity throughout the region,” said Jennie Dickinson, Manager, Port of Columbia in Columbia County.  “After decades of suffering from declines in employment and population, this industry has breathed new life into our community.”

“Without the tax credit, wind energy development in Klickitat County and across Washington state would not be viable,” said the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners.

  • Biodiesel tax credit: The bill will extend the $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel producers. Industry growth slowed after Congress let the credit expire in 2012 and production remained flat at just under 1.1 billion gallons – the same level as 2011. When the credit was reinstated in 2013, the U.S. biodiesel industry produced 1.8 billion gallons in that year. Cantwell and Grassley introduced separate legislation earlier this year to renew the credit.
  • Commuter Tax Benefit: Commuters will be allowed retroactively to take advantage of a pre-tax benefit of $245 per month for public transit use in 2014. The transit benefit dropped to $130 per month on January 1, affecting about 1,600 employers in King County. Cantwell has called for parity for transit users and the legislation passed today reinstates the previous benefit so transit commuters continue getting the same amount drivers receive to cover parking costs.

 

  • Research and Development: The legislation extends for businesses a 20 percent credit for research spending that exceeds predicted R&D costs for that year. Since its enactment in mid-1981, the credit has been extended 15 times and significantly modified five times. In addition, Cantwell cosponsored a bipartisan amendment that enables small startups to use the credit and increase domestic innovation.

“As the State’s Land Grant institution, our researchers work hard to meet the needs of our industry partners and the R&D Tax credit promotes that collaboration,” said Mel Netzhammer, Chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver.

“Increasing the research capacity in Clark County is a key component of developing new industry clusters and assisting existing clusters grow,” said Mike Bomar, President of the Columbia River Economic Development Council.  “Programs that support this endeavor, such as the R&D tax credit, help incentivize this important piece of our long-term economic development strategy for the region.”

 

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Michael Caemmerer, Director of Program Development, Icicle Creek Center for the Arts:

Icicle Creek Center for the Arts strives to provide world-class entertainment at the foot of the amazing Enchantments.  Heading into our 20th anniversary along the beautiful Icicle River, we are proud of the work we have done.  But our audiences and our programs were limited and many people right down the road barely knew we existed and That had to change.

From our roots as a classical music center, Icicle Creek has exploded with a full slate of a wide variety of arts opportunities. We are transitioning to a full-season format of events with offerings in classical music, theater, film, other music, lectures and opera, as well as our signature educational programs. This change means audiences can find a wide variety of performing arts events nearly every Thursday through Saturday from September to June right in their own backyard.

If we are to be seen as reliable, we must be consistent.  In that vein, films run every Thursday night, Met Live Opera plays ten Saturdays throughout the season, there is a Lecture Series, a Classical Music Series, a Music Sampler Series and a Theater Series.  Our program guide now lets people find the things that most interest them and plan ahead.  But more importantly, this level of programming gives fans of the performing arts a dependable local source for outstanding events.

So, if you are looking for a great night of inspiring entertainment,  we are just three miles down Icicle Road and look forward to being the go-to place for outstanding entertainment and educational opportunities in the performing arts.

Michael Caemmerer is the Director of Program Development for the Icicle Creek Center from the Arts. Prior to returning to Leavenworth, he worked internationally, most recently serving as Head of Performing Arts and Theater Manager at the American Embassy School in New Delhi India. His Theater background has included program and consultant work in London, New York, Chennai, and around the globe.

Headshot_Michael

Business of the Year Award

The Business of the Year Award is intended to honor that business which best exemplifies the spirit of free enterprise in the Wenatchee Valley.  The winner should provide an example of the rewards offered by the free enterprise system by risk taking, being innovative and strengthening community spirit.

  • A for profit business with principal ownership in the Wenatchee Valley or a substantial presence in the community.
  • Customer driven.
  • Civic Leadership must be shown through giving to the betterment of the Wenatchee Valley.
  • Reflects a culture in the workplace that encourages employees to be respected and engaged.
  • Demonstrates innovative ways to support employees and works to facilitate their growth and development.

The nominee must be a member in good standing with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and must have been in business for at least 5 years.

Cornerstone Award—The Heart of the Chamber

The Cornerstone  Award is intended to honor a business or individual  who demonstrates the characteristics and values we hold most dear as an organization and community.  The award recognizes those who are passionate about the Chamber and committed to its  role in the community .  The award winner demonstrates this passion about  the Chamber  by investing time and/or resources to carry out the mission of the Chamber.  The Cornerstone Award is intended to honor a business, organization, group or individual who strengthens our community and makes us proud to live work and play here.

The nominee must be a member in good standing of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and must have been in business for at least 5 years.

Non-Profit of the Year Award

The Non-Profit of the Year Award is intended to honor that organization that sets a high standard for quality and demonstrates effective strategy, execution and community impact.  The winner should meet the following criteria:

  • Accomplish significant results on behalf of the community.
  • Supports and demonstrates the collaborative spirit through creative partnerships with other non-profits and/or various businesses and civic organizations.
  • Exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism, altruism and respect.
  • Inspires others by their example.

All nominees must be a member in good standing with the Wenatchee valley Chamber of Commerce, financially stable, and shows a strong return on donor investment.

 

Mission Ridge is kicking off the season with a preview weekend, November 22 and 23 from 9:00am-4:00pm each day. Although Mother Nature is yet to make her major contribution, our snowmaking capabilities have enabled us to open Chair 1. We are so excited to get on the snow and make some turns. Mission Ridge is proud to be the first resort in Washington to open this season and will be opening this early for the fourth year in a row!

We will be running a limited menu this weekend in the Chair 5 Pub and Ka-Wham Café with $2 Badger Mountain Brewery beers and $1 off all other draft beers. Ski school/lessons, rental/retail and childcare will not be available this weekend but will be coming soon!

Park Event: “Stairway to Shreddin'”, our season opener session, will be highlighted by a hike park in the Midway area. Features will include tubes, boxes, rails and a new street-style rail. The event will award prizes for best tricks at random times throughout the day. Joey McGuire will be on hand serving up “Revo dogs.” Come joins us for your first park session of the season. Registration at event site.  Sponsored by Coal, Union, DWD and Revolution Snow and Skate.

Tickets are can be purchased at the Mission Ridge ticket window this weekend, $20 for adults, $10 for children and seniors.

A huge thank you goes out to our snowmaking crew for working around the clock in the bitter cold to make this all possible. They have been on point at utilizing what the conditions are giving us and making an awesome base to be able to open and ski on. If you see them, give them a hug, a high-five or buy them a beer to say thanks. They are the super heroes of snow and we would not be anywhere close to opening this weekend if not for them.

 

In many locales, from a sports tourism standpoint October is considered part of a ‘shoulder’ season. Deemed far from a peak month, with just a smattering of events and plenty of room for growth. Baseball and softball are essentially over, indoor sports such as hockey are just beginning and skiing has yet to crank up. This October, especially the first couple of weeks, exactly the opposite is true in the Wenatchee Valley. Hotel space, sports fields, and even ice time will be at a premium.
October 5-7 will feature the long-awaited US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals at Town Toyota Center. Over 260 skaters representing seven western states, many with Olympics aspirations, will give our area a chance to witness a competitive level of skating seldom seen here. There’s a lot on the line, including a trip to the sectionals with a possibility to actually make the US Olympic team. Pretty heady stuff.
The following weekend, the Apple Cup Soccer Tournament will take place at several venues throughout the region. This is an event that averages over 100 teams annually, making it one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the northwest. Nearly 20 fields in five locations will play host to boys and girls teams with divisions ranging from 6-18 years of age.
Between these two events alone, the valley can expect sports tourism spending in the neighborhood of $450,000. Not bad for two weeks in a so-called ‘shoulder’ season. Hats off to the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club and Wenatchee Fire Soccer for not only providing the economic boost, but hosting events that provide local participation (soccer) and a unique entertainment opportunity (figure skating).

The Port of Douglas County will be holding their next quarterly “Economic Leadership Roundtable” on Thursday October 16th from 11:45 to 1:30 at the Wild Card, 560 Valley Mall Pkwy, in East Wenatchee. These quarterly meetings were started by the Port to bring people together over lunch, which the Port provides, to look at what is happening economically in our region.  At each meeting the Port provides current updates on several of the 32 economic indicators they are tracking as well as bringing in guest presentations from various organizations like the SBDC, SCORE, Employment Security, Wenatchee Valley College and various industries in the region. At the end of the meeting, there is time for organizations and individuals to give quick updates on projects they are working on.  The end goal is to give people in attendance useful information and to provide a networking opportunity particularly between our business owners and the public sector. At this meeting along with the economic indicator updates, we will hear from Bruce Grim, Executive Director of the Washington State Horticultural Association on the state of the tree fruit industry and Don Meseck, our regional labor economist, will give a labor and wage update.  You are invited to attend the lunch, it’s on us, and we promise to start and end on time with no committee assignments. All we ask is for an RSVP so we can make sure we have enough food. If you would like more information or to RSVP please email us at esther@portoddouglas.org or call us at 884-4700.

Last week a local Dental Office received a phone call from a man who identified himself by name and said he was with the City of Wenatchee. He explained that he was working with the Chamber of Commerce and was producing Refrigerator Magnets with City of Wenatchee information and contact phone numbers to be used by the Chamber in New Arrival Baskets.  He proposed to the Office Manager that they pay for advertising their Dental Practice on the Magnet.  After providing a couple of options and explaining he only had two spots left on the Magnet, the Office decided to purchase the advertising.  Upon making the decision, the male caller indicated that he would email a proof of the artwork for approval and transferred the Office Manager to another individual. This person requested the Business information and a Credit Card Number. The Office Manager declined to provide the Credit Card Number and the representative agreed to fax an invoice to the Business Manager requesting immediate payment.

While you have most certainly seen news footage or social media discussion surrounding the wildfires along the Cascade Loop, what you may not know is that there is a relatively small stretch of roadway where travelers will see burn areas. The level of loss in these communities is devastating, and our hope is to play a part in supporting their long-term recovery efforts by bringing guests to shop, dine and spend the night.

To help get the word out we’ve been working with DVA Advertising to supply updated information to the media to help eliminate confusion and disinformation. Articles resulting from those releases were carried by the Seattle P-I, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Longview Daily News, Vancouver Columbian, KOMOnews.com, KING5.com, USA Today, sfgate.com, The Chicago Tribune, Everett Herald, WHAS11.com, Eugene Register-Guard, and Northwest Cable News.

We are presently working on an additional PR initiative in partnership with the Chambers of Commerce in the fire-affected communities to continue to remind folks that the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway is OPEN!

 

Activity at Pangborn Memorial Airport in the first half of 2014 is significantly ahead of 2013 levels in
nearly all categories. Enplanements, the number of passengers flying through Pangborn on Alaska Air,
are up 6.6% in the first six months of 2014 versus the first six months of 2013, which was the best year
ever for Pangborn enplanements.
This has pushed the load factor, the percentage of seats transporting passengers, near the 70% mark.
Port of Chelan County Commissioner President JC Baldwin reacted to the good news saying, “The best
way to get more flights, more airlines and more direct destinations is to use the service you currently
have, and our community is clearly doing just that.” Strong load factors insure profitability of routes.
In addition, car rental activity at the airport was up nearly 30%, reflecting increased business and leisure
travel to north central Washington.
For more information or a copy of the latest activity report, please contact Craig Larsen, Port of Chelan
County Director of Business Development, at 509-663-5159.
For further information, please contact:
Trent Moyers, Pangborn Memorial Airport Director, (509) 884-2494

The Community Foundation of NCW has established a Fire Relief Fund to assist those who have been affected by the devastating fires raging throughout North Central Washington, according to an announcement made today by Beth Stipe, Executive Director of the Foundation.

“We are working with our nonprofit partners throughout the region to ensure that there are adequate resources to assist both the short and long term recovery needs of those in our region who have been affected by the fires.  In times like these, the people of North Central Washington – a resilient group of folks – are there to help their neighbors. This fund will be used to help both short term immediate needs of fire victims, but also to help long term needs of recovery” said Stipe.

In situations like the Charlton Complex Fire, the most effective method of assisting those impacted by the fire is through monetary donations to organizations that specialize in supporting local disasters.  CFNCW also encourages donors to support the local chapter of the American Red Cross who is working on immediate needs.

“We remain concerned about our neighbors and friends who have suffered losses related to the fires that continue to burn throughout North Central Washington.  Our network of nonprofit relationships will ensure that any contributions we receive for the NCW FIRE RELIEF FUND are effectively distributed to those nonprofits and groups that can serve the greatest needs of the fire victims in our communities.  While we don’t want to detract from the immediate local efforts, we believe we should simultaneously plan and prepare for the long term implications and needs this fire will produce for our region in the coming, weeks, months and years.”

To support the NCW FIRE RELIEF FUND, donations can be made directly online at www.cfncw.org.  Support the Apple Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org

The Community Foundation of North Central Washington’s mission is to grow, protect, and connect charitable gifts in support of strong communities throughout Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties. Established in 1986, the Community Foundation currently manages $50 million in assets in over 300 individualized funds and to date has awarded over $30 million in local grants and scholarships and is a National Standards certified community foundation.

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For more information call 509-663-7716 or visit www.cfncw.org.