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Seattle council proposes income tax, then asks what voters think

Councilmember Tim Burgess still wants to know what you think about the Seattle City Council’s proposed income tax plan, even though the council is already moving forward with the tax. In fact, it’s committed to passing it.

Through an online survey, Seattle residents can weigh in on the idea. Actually, they can weigh in more than once. The Google form allows respondents to take the survey as many times as they like.

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Burgess has been actively promoting the income tax through his blog and newsletter. The survey is an extension of that effort. It partially acts as a method of gauging public perceptions, and as an educational tool to establish an understanding of why the council favors the plan.

It asks the basics — zip code, age, political leanings. Then it gets into more specifics, such as the income line to be taxed and at what rate. But the bottom two questions on Burgess’ survey provide more than simple queries. They lay out a history lesson that more-or-less explains the council’s stance on the income tax — the state Supreme Court decided against progressive income taxes twice and established income as property.

One of the survey’s questions asks:

Some argue that legal thinking has now evolved enough that the State Supreme Court could overturn its previous ruling that income is a type of property. Also, some argue that state law in fact does allow cities to tax personal income. Knowing this do you think the city should proceed with a city income tax for a judicial review of this matter?

In May, the council approved a resolution committing itself to passing an income tax. That tax has already been proposed.

The city council held a committee meeting on the proposed income tax Wednesday evening. There are two more meetings slated for the topic, with public comment expected, at 9:30 a.m. on June 21 and July 1.

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