The Williams Institute has released a report that estimates that, when factoring in the total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism, marriage equality could add an $88-million boost to the Washington economy over the first three years after it is legalized. This, in turn, is projected to generate an estimated $8 million in tax revenue for state and local governments.
The report’s figures, based on the average wedding expenditures in Washington teamed with tourism reports from 2010 and data on the marriage expenses of same-sex couples in other states, shows that even under conservative estimates Washington could see a considerable monetary benefit in opening marriage up to same-sex couples.
The report considers that couples in existing registered domestic partnerships might have different spending patterns from couples that do not have that status. Even if there was no new spending by the 7,518 couples currently in registered domestic partnerships, the state would see an estimated increase in spending of $18 million and a tax boost of $1.6 million.
According to Census 2010, there are 19,003 resident same-sex couples in Washington State. Of the 19,003 couples, the report estimates that 50%, or about 9,500 couples, will choose to marry in the three years following the opening of marriage to same-sex couples in Washington.
“Our study estimates that resident same-sex couples will spend $39 million on weddings in Washington in the first year alone,” said co-author Angeliki Kastanis, Public Policy Research Fellow at the Williams Institute. Added Kastanis, “That translates to approximately $3.4 million in tax revenue, given Washington sales tax rates.”
It should be noted that this estimate does not factor in same-sex couples from out of state who travel into Washington in order to marry, which would likely be another source of extra income.
Washington’s marriage equality legislation will receive its first hearing on Monday. Should everything run smoothly through public consultation and then committee stages, it is expected that the legislation will be up for a floor vote by next month.