Mayor Jenny Durkan is speaking out against last week’s decision by the Washington’s Supreme Court to let stand a lower court ruling blocking Seattle from reinstating a city income tax on wealthy households.
“Washington State has one of the most regressive tax systems in the country, and our lowest earning residents consistently pay the highest share of their income in taxes,” Durkan said in a statement on the ruling. “This is unfair, unjust and not sustainable. Those that have more can – and must – do more. This has never been more true than now.”
The ruling, for now, means the state and cities like Seattle cannot enact income taxes with different rates based on wealth but the Supreme Court has let stand a lower court decision last year to void a state law that banned taxes on net income.
Durkan said she believes the city has the authority to implement an income tax and will continue to “fight statewide for more progressive taxes.”
Seattle’s latest stymied tax effort started in 2017 with a “Trump-Proof Seattle” coalition making a push for a new city income tax.
Seattle’s income tax placed a 2.25% rate on income over $250,000 a year for individuals, or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly. It was expected to generate $140 million a year.
The setback for the city comes as a new push is underway for a payroll tax on Seattle’s largest employers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia.
In her statement, Durkan said the COVID-19 pandemic shows that “those same residents that earn or have the least are the first to feel economic stings of job loss and instability.”
“As we emerge from this emergency all of us need to rebuild a city that is more just and equitable. We will come back. We will restore the vitality of our city,” Durkan said. “But let’s build that city on a foundation that continues our amazing innovation, shares prosperity, and allows for economic opportunity.”
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