LOCAL NEWS

Court rules Seattle can impose an income tax in stunning decision

Jul 15, 2019, 2:04 PM | Updated: 2:17 pm
Income tax...
An appeals court made a surprising decision Monday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The Washington State Court of Appeals handed down a shocking decision Monday, ruling that the City of Seattle has the legal authority to impose an income tax.

Seattle City Council knew income tax was illegal before passing tax

It was roughly two years ago when Seattle City Council unanimously passed an income tax on high earners. But the 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals, and $500,000 for married couples has yet to be imposed.

A legal battle has ensued ever since, over the fact that Washington is one of the few states that doesn’t impose an income tax. Monday’s ruling called that restriction into question.

The appeals court ruled that while the tax levied against high earners by the City of Seattle is unconstitutional, the city still has the authority to impose an income tax, provided it’s uniform across all tax brackets. Essentially, if Seattle — or any city in Washington — wants an income tax, it would need to be applied evenly across every household, regardless of what they make yearly.

“I was dumbstruck by the way the court reached its decision,” Attorney Matthew Davis told KIRO Radio. Davis represents Michael Kunath, one of the plaintiffs in the case filed against Seattle’s initial proposed income tax.

“The decision itself was not a surprise at all — how the court got to its decision was a big surprise,” he added.

Next, both Davis and the City of Seattle will look to bring the case before the Washington State Supreme Court, each for different reasons. For Davis, the hope is to uphold the ruling stating Seattle’s proposed tax on high earners is unconstitutional, but overturn the appeals court decision allowing Seattle to impose a uniform income tax.

Arguments open court hearing for controversial Seattle income tax

The City is looking for the opposite outcome: For the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling on the high earner tax, and uphold the uniform income tax decision.

“We’re pleased that the Court held the City had the statutory authority to enact an income tax,” the Seattle City Attorney’s Office said in a written statement. “The City has always recognized that ultimately the Washington State Supreme Court is the proper place to overturn the bad precedent holding an income tax is a tax on property. We intend to petition our Washington State Supreme Court for appeal.”

Local News

Anthony-Paul Diaz - Anthony-Paul Diaz is Seattle superintendent of parks and recreation nominee. (C...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Seattle mayor announces new parks head

On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Anthony-Paul Diaz as superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, advancing the mayor’s plan for clean, safe and accessible parks.
10 hours ago
Encampment...
L.B. Gilbert

Shooting near Ship Canal Bridge homeless encampment slows Friday commute

KIRO Newsradio's Sam Campbell went to the scene where the Washington State Patrol (WSP) said four gunshots were reported early Friday.
10 hours ago
Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Washington kills 2 wolves to prevent preying on cattle

Biologists working for Washington have killed two members of the Leadpoint wolf pack this week in an effort to stop the pack from preying on cattle
10 hours ago
Photo from NTSB...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News and Jake Chapman, KIRO 7 News

At least 80% of floatplane wreckage pulled from water near Whidbey Island; remains found

According to Island County Emergency Management, remains were found in the wreckage Thursday, but did not say how many they were still notifying families.
10 hours ago
shopping carts...
Darren Dedo

Abandoned shopping carts requiring coordinated response from Everett police

Everett Police said dumped carts hurt local businesses and are an eyesore for the community.
1 day ago
ferries...
Micki Gamez

Washington State Ferries are free for youth riders starting Saturday

Because of this recent change, kids and teens can now grab a free ticket from a terminal employee by showing an ID or an Ocra Card.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Court rules Seattle can impose an income tax in stunning decision