On July 10, 2017, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to create a city income tax to help finance priorities like the homelessness crisis, providing transit, offsetting federal budget cuts, and reducing current regressive taxes, including property, B&O or sales taxes.
The legislation will place a 2.25% tax rate on income over $250,000 year for individuals, or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly. The tax will not affect any income earned below those thresholds.
This comes after years of work from the Seattle-based Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI) on strategies to reform our state’s inequitable tax system, which has not been updated since the 1930s. The first major push was in 2010 with Initiative 1098, which called for a statewide tax on income in excess of $200,000 per year to fund healthcare and education. This failed at the ballot statewide but passed strongly in progressive cities like Seattle.
So in early 2017, the Transit Riders Union teamed up with EOI to build a coalition called Trump Proof Seattle, which sought to protect Seattle from federal funding cuts to health care, environmental preparedness and other societal necessities. The coalition of community, labor, environmental, and social justice organizations united to pressure Seattle City Council to pass a tax on the very wealthy, who have historically paid an unfairly low share of taxes, in order to provide for the city’s residents.
On March 1, the Seattle City Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee met for a “Lunch and Learn” session to discuss Trump Proof Seattle’s plan. Originally, the plan was to tax unearned income (capital gains, interest and dividends) for households with incomes above $250,000. View or download the presentation slides from that meeting here.
But the plan changed, and we pursued an income tax rather than a capital gains tax.
Before the vote in July, John Burbank hosted a rally in front of city hall, including speakers including Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien; Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes; Nicole Grant, executive secretary-treasurer of the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council; Michael Tamayo, vice president of the Seattle Education Association; Katie Wilson, general secretary of the Transit Riders Union; and Tiffani McCoy, organizer for Real Change.
But the fight isn’t over yet. Lawsuits have already been filed to stop the tax, which EOI and the City of Seattle are ready to fight to protect.
- 350 Seattle
- 32nd District Democrats
- 36th District Democrats
- 43rd District Democrats
- 46th District Democrats
- AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)
- AFT 6550
- AFT Seattle
- Casa Latina
- Neighborhood Action Coalition
- D1 Neighborhood Action Council
- D3 Capitol Hill Neighborhood Action Council
- D3 Central District Neighborhood Action Council
- D3 Periphery Neighborhood Action Council
- D4 Neighborhood Action Council
- D5 Neighborhood Action Council
- D6 Neighborhood Action Council
- D7 Neighborhood Action Council
- Democratic Socialists of America – Seattle
- Economic Opportunity Institute
- Green Party of Washington State
- Housing Now Seattle
- IAM 751
- King County Labor Council
- League of Women Voters Seattle-King County
- Office of Councilmember Kshama Sawant
- Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
- PTE Local 17
- Real Change
- Seattle Education Association (SEA)
- Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE)
- Seattle Human Services Coalition
- SEIU 775
- Sierra Club of Washington State
- Socialist Alternative
- Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE)
- Tenants Union of Washington State
- The Urbanist
- Transit Riders Union
- UAW Local 4121
- United for Single Payer
- Upgrade Seattle
- The Washington Bus
- Washington Community Action Network
- WFSE Local 304
- Women’s Housing Equality and Enhancement League (WHEEL)