Seattle’s proposed income tax ordinance would mean new revenue for housing, education and other community needs. And it would help fix our upside-down tax code, where low-income workers pay a rate seven times higher than the richest households.
It may seem counter-intuitive that we should focus on trees, when we live in the Northwest, surrounded by mountains and forests. But when you consider urban and suburban growth, trees have been losing out. Our forests are now on their third growth cycle, with smaller and less healthy trees. The giants are gone. So one way to take back a little of our natural heritage is to plant a tree.
“What Seattle is embarking upon, the City Council and the Mayor, is a legal process to clarify the legal ability of cities to establish a progressive income tax,” Burbank said. The brass ring would be to overturn state Supreme Court holdings that equate a tax on income to a tax on property that can be levied only at a flat rate and at no more than one percent.
Proponents say it could raise $125 million a year. But critics, say the move hurts more than helps the city’s cause. We invited guests on both sides of the issue to discuss if this is the path to equality or an unforced error.
The Seattle City Council voted unanimously today in favor of a resolution that endorses a city income tax on high-earning households and indicates that the council will draft and pass an ordinance by July 10th despite a likely legal challenge. The Trump Proof Seattle coalition (lead by the Transit Riders Union and the progressive think-tank the Economic Opportunity Institute) have pushed for a city-level income tax to offset potential federal funding cuts and lighten the tax load on low-income earners (who bear a disproportionate burden of local and state tax revenue due to Washington’s heavy reliance on sales and property taxes).
The Seattle City Council is slated to vote on a resolution that endorses developing a city-level income tax ordinance, despite the longstanding debate across the state over the legality of income taxes and failed attempts to enact such tax schemes in the past. How did we get here? And will it go anywhere? Here are answers to your most burning questions.
The numbers are stark. According to a survey conducted for the City of Seattle by Maggie Simich of Patinkin Research, a Portland-based consulting firm, 41 percent of Seattle residents lack access to paid parental leave. Half of all companies offer no paid parental leave at all. Workers in the lowest-paying industries, such as restaurant workers, hotel employees, and education were the least likely to receive paid leave. And the smaller a company is, the less likely it is to offer paid family leave.
We have to start somewhere, said John Burbank, director of the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle, who is spearheading the plan. “Think of this as opening up a pathway to progressive taxation that could eventually include all those billionaires, the uber super-wealthy,” Burbank said.
While the Transit Riders Union, along with the Economic Opportunity Institute, is leading the push, it has quickly amassed a sizable coalition of supporters, including labor unions, climate activists, and Upgrade Seattle. The tax, Upgrade Seattle’s Glaser says, is a perfect melding of otherwise disparate political causes, and speaks to the cohesive nature of this political movement.
The draft resolution notes the mayor’s office, the Council, city attorney, and members of the Trump Proof Seattle Coalition (a group advocating for an income tax to offset potential federal funding cuts under the Trump administration, spearheaded by the Transit Riders Union and the local progressive think tank the Economic Opportunity Institute) will coordinate to draft a final ordinance.
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