Although a King County judge ruled against Seattle’s income tax last month, many, including tax initiative enthusiast Tim Eyman, are still worried.
“What I’ve found over the last nine months researching this issue is that the reason the Seattle City Council and the Legislature have gotten away with this game of ‘Well we’re not in favor of an income tax but we are trying for a capital gains tax’ is that there’s no definition in state law of what income is,” Eyman told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
Eyman’s solution is another new initiative simply called “We don’t want an income tax.”
“What it does is it prohibits the state and any local governments from imposing any kind of income tax, not an income tax on your net income, your gross income, your total income, your capital gains income,” he said.
The initiative defines income to mean wages, capital gains, net income, adjusted gross income, and any other kind of income.
Eyman is particularly afraid that a capital gains tax might later open the door to a more comprehensive income tax.
“Once you get this camel’s nose under the tent, once you open up Pandora ’s Box, once you have some kind of income tax, you can have any kind of income tax,” he said.
Article VII of the Washington State Constitution prohibits any kind of graduated tax on income. That means the only legal income tax would have to tax the rich at the same rate as the poor. Eyman said his initiative will clarify and double down on what the constitution already says.
“It takes off the table any income tax moving forward,” he said. “It’s a semantic battle because current law doesn’t define the word ‘income,’ where our initiative will.”
Attorneys for the city are appealing their income tax case to the Supreme Court and Mayor Jenny Durkan has said she supports that appeal.
If his initiative makes it to the ballot, Eyman said he thinks it will get about 70 to 80 percent of the vote.
“Let’s stop counting on judges to do the job for us, let’s instead take our case to the voters,” he said. “Our initiative bans all income taxes for all time.”