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Washington wealthy clash over income tax on rich

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The state that produced America's richest man has never taken a cut of its residents' income. Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and his father would like to change that.

They are among the wealthy Washingtonians who have joined labor unions and other traditional Democratic allies to support a tax-the-rich ballot measure that is dividing the state's business leaders. Other executives at Microsoft and oppose the tax.

The initiative will test whether voters are willing to tax the rich in the 2010 elections as Congress debates the issue.

Washington is one of seven states without an income tax. Business leaders say taxing wealthy individuals could seriously crimp the state's economic rebound.