State Supreme Court Declines to Review Seattle Income Tax

Seattle can create an income tax, but it can't be progressive

On Friday, the Washington Supreme Court decided to not review the ruling of the Court of Appeals on Seattle’s income tax on the affluent. This means that, while the archaic legal equation that income is property remains in force in our state,

“Seattle has the statutory authority to adopt a property tax on income,” as stated by the Court of Appeals.

We are disappointed that the Supreme Court decided against review. However, with this decision the Supreme Court squashed the attempts of conservative opponents to disallow Seattle and other cities in Washington from instituting an income tax. The Supreme Court’s decision cements the Court of Appeals ruling that Washington law banning cities from instituting taxes on net income is unconstitutional and no longer valid.

Even at the height of the economic boom, our cities had crying needs for additional revenues to address the crisis of homelessness and social dislocations caused by inequitable growth and inaccessible basic services. Now during this pandemic, those who were already vulnerable are even more at risk.

This ruling means that Seattle has immediate access to an additional tool for raising revenue from those who can afford it the most, rather than from those who can least afford it. The City doesn’t have to wait for another year for a Supreme Court decision. 

We need this additional flexibility now to maintain crucial public services and public health in this pandemic.  

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