LOCAL NEWS

Kshama Sawant introduces legislation for Seattle income tax

Jun 12, 2017, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2017, 9:15 am
Sawant, tax the rich, income tax...
Kshama Sawant. (AP)
(AP)

After weeks of leaders talking about a Seattle income tax proposal, socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant introduced legislation for it on Monday.

About the tax

Mayor Ed Murray made comments in the spring about the idea of proposing a 1.5 percent city income tax on “high-end” households and high earners.

According to a report a council committee in May, Seattle has the most regressive state and local tax system in the country. Regressive tax means the rate goes down as personal incomes go higher–lower income earners pay higher tax rates than the highest earners.

The new income tax proposal seeks to make the tax system more progressive by shifting more of the tax burden to the wealthy.

RELATED: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer warns against a Seattle income tax

Sawant introduced actual legislation for the proposal on Monday. It creates an income tax of two percent on all income over $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a couple. For example, if a household has an income of $300,000, $50,000 of that would be taxed. And the city would collect $750.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold is co-sponsoring the legislation and Mayor Ed Murray is expected to endorse it.

What supporters say

Proponents of the tax say it would create a more even playing field in a city that’s becoming too expensive for low- to middle-income taxpayers to afford.

In early May, the City Council unanimously supported a resolution in favor of a Seattle income tax. The resolution did not make the tax official, but it expressed the council’s intent to “adopt a progressive income tax targeting high-income households.”

Sawant has taken to social media and held a town hall to build momentum behind her movement, which she calls “Tax the Rich.”

“For decades, poor and working class people in our state have paid far more of their income in taxes than the super-rich. Now with Trump’s billionaire-backed right-wing administration threatening massive tax breaks for corporations and the super-wealthy alongside vicious cuts to social programs for ordinary people, thousands are getting organized. We need to use this momentum by winning a tax on Seattle’s rich this year,” she wrote in a blog post.

What opponents say

The “tax the rich” narrative has another side.

Critics say the majority of the wealthiest taxpayers in Seattle are small-business owners, managers and professionals with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Some believe a progressive tax would create an unfriendly business climate and could drive companies away or prevent new ones from forming.

KIRO 7 News talked to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who said in May that an income tax would hurt Seattle.

‘There would be fewer jobs here with an income tax than without an income tax,” Ballmer said.

Ballmer believes tech companies would have to pay higher wages to maintain their competitive advantage over California, which has a 14 percent income tax.

Legislative obstacles for the tax

It’s illegal for cities to impose an income tax under the Washington state constitution, so if the tax passes, it will no doubt be challenged and likely reversed.

If the council can get the court’s approval, it can move forward with a progressive income tax.

State Rep. Brandon Vick told KIRO Radio that he wants to pass a bill that will shut down any legal attempt that Seattle can take toward an income tax.

He’s not alone. Republican state Sen. Phil Fortunato has his own companion bill to Vick’s. If Vick and Fortunato are successful, then no attempt by any Washington city or county for an income tax will go anywhere in the future.

Local News

corrections jail cell...
MyNorthwest Staff

Corrections officer pay increasing 15% as staffing shortages hit critical levels

King County Corrections needs to fill roughly 100 vacant positions. To incentivize new hires, the union recently voted to raise standard hourly wage by 15%.
13 hours ago
tiktok challenge...
MyNorthwest Staff

Viral TikTok challenge to steal Kias, Hyundais grabs law enforcement’s attention

The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task-Force (PSATT) is warning drivers of a viral "TikTok challenge" that shows people how to steal certain Kia and Hyundais.
13 hours ago
crime organized theft bellevue...
Darren Dedo

The Crime Blotter: Three organized retail theft rings busted in Bellevue 

Darren Dedo reports on overnight crime on the morning of Aug. 11.
13 hours ago
The West Seattle Bridge (SounderBruce via Flickr)...
Chris Sullivan

Nearly 900 days into its closure, the West Seattle Bridge’s reopening date becomes official

It's the news West Seattle has been waiting for.
13 hours ago
Photo from the Associated Press...
Associated Press

Oregon ski area sued over Tacoma child’s death

The parents of a 9-year-old child who died skiing at Mt. Bachelor ski area in central Oregon last year have filed a $49 million wrongful death lawsuit against the resort and its parent company, Powdr Corp.
13 hours ago
(Unsplash)...
Associated Press

Spokane doctor accused in kidnapping for hire plot pleads guilty

A Spokane medical doctor accused of hiring someone on the dark web to kidnap his estranged wife pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of threats in interstate commerce as part of a plea deal.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

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 […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Kshama Sawant introduces legislation for Seattle income tax