“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.
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.
Almost all mayoral and council candidates support a city income tax as a “test case” for the state Supreme Court. Trump Proof Seattle --which includes the Neighborhood Action Coalition, Economic Opportunity Institute, and Seattle Transit Riders Union -- expects the income tax to be challenged in court, likely from the right-wing Freedom Foundation. And they hope the state Supreme Court will reverse the narrow decisions they made in 1933 and 1935 that ruled a city income tax as unconstitutional.
It’s a respectable, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is move from Murray. But you shouldn’t thank him for getting us to this point. Instead, thank a scrappy group of grassroots advocates branding themselves Trump-Proof Seattle. The Trump-Proof Seattle coalition, led by the Transit Riders Union, is far from the first group to point out the backwardness of Washington’s tax system—but it may be the first to successfully force action. The coalition wants a city tax of 1.5 percent on households that make more than $250,000 a year. That would hit about 5.1 percent of Seattle's population, according to the Economic Opportunity Institute, which supports the proposal.
Mayor Ed Murray’s support for a city tax on high-income households has grabbed headlines. He is the latest in a growing list of public figures to endorse the idea in response to the efforts of the Trump Proof Seattle Coalition, which has proposed a city-wide tax of 1.5% on income in excess of $250,000. The Economic Opportunity Institute estimates that this would raise over $125 million per year in the City of Seattle.
Showing page of 44 Next