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Seattle mayor pitches city income tax days after opponent does

Former Mayor Ed Murray. (AP)

Just days after former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said he supports the idea of a city income tax while announcing that he will run for office, current Mayor Ed Murray proposed a city income tax during a candidate forum.

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Murray says the income tax would target “high-end” residents, The Seattle Times reports. Additionally, other taxes would be reduced, if the income tax was approved.

Citing Murray, the Times reports that some of the income tax would be used to fill in the funding gap left by cuts from the federal government.

During McGinn’s announcement on Monday where he called out the current administration for designing a “system to drive out the working class and middle class,” the former mayor urged the city to pass an income tax soon to get the ball rolling. Because he said, there will inevitably be a court battle over such a tax.

As KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross points out, the tax idea is primarily designed to setup a legal challenge in hopes of overturning a state Supreme Court decision that blocked a statewide income tax. He adds that the tax would target individuals earning more than $250,000 and couples over $500,000 and based on federal adjusted gross income.

It was the first candidate forum in the 2017 race, and it came two weeks after a 46-year-old Kent man accused Murray of raping him decades ago. The mayor has adamantly denied the accusation.

This week, McGinn and urban planner Cary Moon announced that they’re challenging Murray.

The mayor said the income tax would be accompanied by reductions in other taxes, such as property and sales taxes, that hit poorer people harder.

Murray’s latest proposal adds to a growing list of taxes that he sees as necessary to support a growing city dealing with a homeless crisis and lack of affordable housing.

Earlier this year, Murray announced a $275 million property tax levy that would help solve some of the city’s problems.

“To create more options for housing,” Murray told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns. “Because we have a regressive tax system … Sales tax is not an option here, but if it was, sales tax is even more regressive for poor people than a property tax because folks with property at least have equity. In this city, if you own property, you’ve gotten a lot of equity during this period of growth.”

That proposal was later ditched. But in its place, Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced they will try to pass a regional sales tax increase in 2018.

Murray also proposed a tax on sugary drinks which he says will fund new investments in education — side note: Mike McGinn pitched a similar tax during his term as mayor.

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