Mayor Durkan: Seattle should appeal court ruling on income tax

Dec 1, 2017, 5:57 AM | Updated: Dec 8, 2017, 5:29 pm

jenny durkan, income tax...

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, left, is administered the oath of office for Seattle mayor by U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones on Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle’s new mayor believes the city should appeal the recent court decision that states its income tax is illegal.

“It’s my view it should be appealed,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said The Seattle Times Facebook Live Event that ranged in questions from city growth to her stance on leaf blowers. “I think a superior court judge is never in the position to decide what the law for the whole state would be.”

RELATED: Seattle’s income tax might not make it to the Supreme Court

King County Superior Court Judge John Ruhl ruled against the income tax on November 22 and several Seattleites are suing the city. But Seattle has always had its sights set on bringing the issue to the state Supreme Court. This is to get an interpretation of the state law changed, and in turn, open up taxing authority for all Washington cities.

The city is now deciding whether to appeal Judge Ruhl’s ruling. Durkan’s statement that a superior court judge shouldn’t decide the “law for the whole state” is in line with proponents who argue that the Supreme Court can alter the law to allow cities to impose an income tax.

While Seattle’s new mayor said she wants to discuss the matter with City Attorney Pete Holmes first, she does favor the tax.

“What I’m trying to say is: I want to talk with my lawyer first,” Durkan said. “What are our chances? What is it going to cost? Once we have that information, consult with the city council, and then decide how to move forward.”

RELATED: How Seattle considered spending its income tax

“I think it’s a long shot,” she added. “I think under the current state of the law – both state law that prohibits cities from imposing income taxes as well as the constitutional provisions — will strike down our income tax law, but I think we have to find the answer to it.”

Durkan also said that the city could use a recent court ruling on another controversial Seattle tax — the ammunition tax. It was challenged in court and the ruling used language Durkan believes could be used in a case to “grant broader power to cities” to levy taxes.

Before the City Council voted 9-0 to approve the tax in July, Durkan’s predecessor made it clear he expects a fight.

“We welcome that legal challenge. We welcome that fight,” Mayor Ed Murray said. If the city wins that battle, “it won’t just be Seattle that’s doing a progressive income tax,” he added.

The 2.25 percent income tax would apply to individuals making more than $250,000 or married couples making over $500,000. The city estimated the new tax would raise $140 million annually to pay for transit, housing, carbon reduction, and any federal money that is lost.

Historically, Washington state voters have rejected income-tax related measures several times. However, voters did approve an income tax in 1932, but the state Supreme Court ruled the measure unconstitutional the following year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MyNorthwest News

Image: A Tacoma Police Department vehicle is seen on a street....

Steve Coogan

Human finger found in Tacoma driveway IDed, returned to owner

The case of a mysterious human finger found in a Tacoma driveway earlier this month has been solved and the digit was returned to its owner.

9 minutes ago

Photo: Police are looking for a Tacoma serial arsonist after a rash of fires. This photo is of a fi...

James Lynch

Tacoma police looking for serial arsonist after rash of fires endanger lives, property

Tacoma police are currently searching for a serial arsonist after a rash of fires in the area endangered lives and property.

45 minutes ago

Photo: This man was arrested in connection with a Kent attempted kidnapping on July 16, 2024....

Julia Dallas

Bail set: 11-year-old girls save 6-year-old from being kidnapped in Kent

A man was arrested and bail set for allegedly trying to kidnap a 6-year-old. Fortunately, three 11-year-old girls stepped in.

2 hours ago

Photo: Data from the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed visitors are coming back to downtown, f...

Julia Dallas

Visitors are filling downtown Seattle streets near pre-pandemic levels

Data from the Downtown Seattle Association confirmed visitors are coming back to downtown, filling the streets at levels close to 2019.

4 hours ago

Photo: Teens were caught allegedly robbing a 7-Eleven in Renton on July 18, 2024....

Julia Dallas

4 teens arrested in connection with Renton 7-Eleven robbery

Four teenagers were arrested in connection with the robbery of a 7-Eleven in Renton early Thursday morning.

5 hours ago

Photo: Thousands of members of Boeing's Machinist Union met at T-Mobile Park Wednesday to decide wh...

James Lynch

Boeing machinists vote overwhelmingly to authorize a strike

Thousands of members of Boeing's Machinist Union met at T-Mobile Park Wednesday to decide whether to authorize a strike vote.

6 hours ago

Mayor Durkan: Seattle should appeal court ruling on income tax