By Misa Murohashi
Mayor Ed Mury and councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold unveiled a joint proposal on June 12 to levy an income tax on high-income households in Seattle.
The proposal would place a 2% tax on joint filers’ income over $500,000 and single tax filers’ income over $250,000. “The estimated $125 million in new annual revenue would allow the city to lower the burden associated with property taxes and other regressive taxes, replace federal funding potentially lost through President Trump’s budget cuts, enhance public services such as housing, education, transit, and/or create green jobs while meeting the city’s carbon reduction goals,” said a statement from the mayor’s office.
Washington state is one of seven states
without an income tax. Washington’s sales tax is one of the highest in the nation. That combination makes for one of the most regressive tax structures in the US.
Supporters of the current tax structure say that having no income tax lures global corporations here. Opponents, including Mayor Murray, insist the current tax structure is unfair to low- income households.
“The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has found Washington state’s existing tax structure to be the most regressive in the nation, disproportionately hitting low-income households,” the mayor’s office said. “ITEP found in 2015 that state and local taxes paid by the 20% of Washington families with the lowest incomes amounted to 16.8% of their income. In contrast, the tax burden for the 1% of families with the highest incomes was 2.4% of their income.”
The city council is expected to take a vote by mid-July.