Legislature OKs Padden bill providing tax exemption for mobility equipment

People buying motorized wheelchairs or other mobility-improving equipment could pay less thanks to a bill that has been approved by the Legislature.

Senate Bill 5218, from 4th District Sen. Mike Padden, would make such equipment tax-exempt. The House of Representatives unanimously approved the measure today after the Senate unanimously passed it March 31. SB 5218 now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for consideration.

“This bill will help people with disabilities by removing the sales tax from motorized wheelchairs or other technological equipment, which will help them save money while also helping maintain their independence,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “It can be very costly for someone to buy such equipment that they need for their daily lives, and the sales tax only adds to the high cost. This bill helps make such purchases more affordable for those who need this equipment.”

During his Senate floor speech in favor of the proposal, Padden mentioned that written testimony supporting the bill was provided by Steve Gleason, a former Gonzaga Prep, Washington State University and New Orleans Saints football player who contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“Steve indicated how important this legislation would be, not only for those who have ALS or multiple sclerosis but those who need what I would call high-tech wheelchairs that can do so much and can cost $30,000 and up,” said Padden. “The sales-tax portion is a large amount of money for this equipment. Steve pointed out that if people have this equipment, they are less likely to go into hospitals and require more expensive medical care.”

SB 5218 states that to claim the sales-tax exemption, the purchaser must provide the seller with an exemption certificate as prescribed by the state Department of Revenue. The tax exemption would apply to mobility-enhancing equipment sold or used on or after Aug. 1, 2023.

House also passes Padden bill to benefit employee stock ownership plans 

The House today also unanimously passed Senate Bill 5096, a bipartisan proposal sponsored by Padden that would aid businesses looking to adopt an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) corporate structure.

“This bill promotes employee ownership, which I think is a very valuable thing, not only for our employees but for society,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “Studies have shown that employees are happier, they stay in their job longer and they retire in a much better financial position. And the companies are more likely to stay locally.”

Padden added that the bill would help those businesses looking to adopt an ESOP.

“Many current business owners do not have a plan for when they transition out of the business, and employee ownership provides a valuable option.”

The proposal is backed by a very diverse group of supporters, including the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

SB 5096 specifically would:

  • Create the Washington Employee Ownership Program at the state Department of Commerce to offer technical support and other services to certain businesses considering certain employee ownership structures.
  • Form the Washington Employee Ownership Commission to oversee the program.
  • Provide a business and occupation tax credit for costs related to converting a qualifying business to an employee ownership structure.

The House amended SB 5096, so it must return to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate unanimously passed the measure on March 2.

The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to end Sunday.