Seattle’s Income Tax on the Wealthy in the Court of Appeals

It's one more step in the court case's path to the state supreme court

Today the Court of Appeals heard oral arguments regarding Seattle’s Income Tax on the Affluent. This is the next step of the legal process for Seattle’s Income Tax on the Affluent.

We look forward to continuing to share our insights in the legalities of Seattle’s Income Tax on the Affluent with the Court. We understand that current law gives Seattle the authority to implement this Income Tax on the Affluent.

Social services in Seattle are continually underfunded, Seattle citizens experience the daily irritants of poor transit, bad roads, child care that costs more than college tuition, housing costs that eat up 50 percent of family budgets, and escalating health premiums and out-of- pocket costs. We need both new progressive revenue and good public policy to enable a good quality of life for all of us. We cannot continue to force middle class and low-income families to teeter on the edge of economic disaster.

We can’t fund housing, transit, and child care with another regressive tax. Right now, Seattle renters with income under $25,000 pay 17 percent of that income in state and local taxes, over $4,000. Seattle homeowners with incomes of $75,000 pay almost 9 percent of that in state and local taxes. But households with $250,000 incomes contribute less than half of this, a little more than 4 percent of their incomes.

Our tax system also doubles down on institutional racism, with over two-fifths of Native Americans and Black Americans in Seattle paying 17 percent of their incomes in taxes, 22 percent of Hispanics paying 17 percent in taxes, while only 13 percent of whites pay this same high proportion of income in taxes.


The parties that have challenged Seattle’s Income Tax on the Affluent include the right-wing, anti-union, and Koch Brothers-funded Freedom Foundation. Of course they don’t want an Income Tax on the Affluent, because it is their job to protect the privilege and power of the already privileged and powerful.

Our constitution and our laws are living documents. They change with the needs of our people, and the wisdom we gain over the years. The current Washington State Supreme Court can, and we believe will, overturn a decision which has resulted in massive inequities in taxation, letting the affluent skip out on their rightful contributions for public services, while disproportionately taxing low-income and working class families and communities of color.

The Court of Appeals is one step along the legal pathway. No matter the decision of the Court of Appeals, it will be further appealed to the Washington State Supreme Court. We believe that in that venue, we will prevail in correcting our city’s extraordinarily regressive tax system. We look forward to the day when working families no longer have to pay higher taxes than the wealthy and privileged. What is legal and constitutional should work for the people, not against them.

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