Report: How Seattle considered spending its income tax

Oct 4, 2017, 5:36 AM | Updated: 7:47 am

income tax...

(Alan Cleaver, Flickr)

While Seattle fights for its income tax in the courtroom, newly revealed emails show how the city has considered spending an estimated $140 million annually in new revenue.

RELATED: Seattle counters income tax lawsuits

The Puget Sound Business Journal obtained emails between city staff and consultants hired to develop Seattle’s income tax plan.

One idea was to pay community college tuition for Seattle’s high school graduates. This is an idea current mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan has promoted, though without the income tax to fund it. Durkan’s “Seattle Promise” plan aims to provide community college for high school graduates, with potential funds raised from the soda tax, education levies, and Sound Transit 3.

Durkan has also said that no new revenue sources are needed to fund the college tuition, which she estimates will cost $4.3 million to $5 million in its first year and $7 million after that.

Other ideas for Seattle’s income tax: new programs that are popular, but not immediately needed; replacing car tab fees from the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, replacing the property taxes from the Move Seattle levy, or even replacing the sales tax; replacing medical funding that residents could lose without the Affordable Care Act; as well as “the highest needs of the day.”

Seattle’s income tax

When Seattle passed its income tax on the city’s top earners in July, officials said the money could be used for a range of purposes, such as: lowering the burden associated with property taxes and other regressive taxes; affordable housing; the homelessness crisis; education; transit; replacing lost federal funding for mental health and public health services; and creating green jobs.

Though the city may have brainstormed a few ways to spend the revenue, it will first have to defend the income tax in court. This was actually the city’s plan. State law largely prevents income taxes, which is why the city expected to face lawsuits. It’s currently involved in three.

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Report: How Seattle considered spending its income tax