The two heads of Microsoft are finding themselves on opposite sides of a battle in Washington State over the imposition of a state income tax that would apply to only upper-income earners.
Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates and his father William Gates Sr. are supporting Initiative 1098, set to appear on the November ballot. If the initiative passes, a 5 percent tax would be levied on couples who make more than $400,000 or individuals who make more than $200,000, and a 9 percent tax on couples who make more than $1 million or individuals who make more than $500,000. Gates Sr. has even contributed $500,000 to a campaign in support of passing the ballot initiative.
On the opposite side is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who has contributed $100,000 to the Defeat-1098 campaign, according to Forbes.com. The company too is on a list of employers who are officially opposed to the tax, according to the Defeat-1098 campaign. Ballmer is joined by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has also given $100,000 to defeat the ballot initiative. Opponents argue that the lack of a statewide income tax is one of the selling points of Washington State and that it would be hard to attract more companies to the state with such a tax. However, Washington State, like most states around the country these days, is struggling to close its budget gap.