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.
A successful income tax, Murray said at the forum, would create an opportunity to lower some of the more regressive taxes like sales and property taxes and shift those burdens to the high-end income tax. Talk of a Seattle income tax has increased in recent months. A group seeking to “Trump-proof” Seattle from potential federal funding cuts has proposed a tax of 1.5 percent on all income above $250,000. This coalition is headed by the Economic Opportunity Institute and the Transit Riders Union.
We all knew that our car tabs would increase a lot in 2017 to help fund Sound Transit. So when the first invoices arrived, the vast majority of people just paid their tabs. But a vocal minority, with big tabs from expensive cars, took their displeasure to Olympia, hoping that the Legislature would listen to their stories and disregard the will of the people. Now we have a bipartisan attack on Sound Transit, with both Republicans and Democrats offering proposals for defunding.
You might expect that Boeing would treat Everett as the jewel in the crown of its operations. That is certainly what the Boeing management led legislators and the governor to believe when the company demanded first a $3.2 billion tax concession from the state, and then another $8.7 billion. What did this recent tax giveaway to Boeing get us? A loss of close to 12,000 jobs, 15% of the total Boeing workforce in our state. That means that the state gave Boeing about $138,000 for every single job they took away!
It should be no surprise that increases in the minimum wage result in job increases. It is a matter of actual human behavior in the private market, not an imaginary economic model.
Washington’s Legislature is more than halfway through its 2017 session and a lot of good bills have gone to the chopping block. The issues that have made it this far in the process are still alive because individuals and organizations spoke up, identified real life problems, and urged legislators to make the system more fair for people like them.
Immigrants planted the seeds for cross-country skiing in the Northwest. They included Norwegians, Swedes and Finns, who came over to our country with the same hopes and dreams of today’s immigrants, and, just as more recent immigrants do now, added their cultures, their knowledge and their work to our American democracy.
The Transit Riders Union, Economic Opportunity Institute and other local organizations are launching a campaign called “Trump Proof Seattle” to start a city income tax on wealthy households.