2017-9 Resolution in Support of a Local Income Tax for Seattle and Shoreline

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Create DateApril 26, 2017



WHEREAS Washington  residents, including those in Seattle and Shoreline, have long been subject to the most regressive state tax system in the country, putting an unfair burden on poor and middle-class residents while protecting and reinforcing the privileges of the wealthy; and

WHEREAS, for example, Washington residents with incomes below $21,000 pay 16.8% of their income in state and local taxes and those with incomes between $40,000 and $65,000 pay 10.1% of their income in such taxes, while residents with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000 pay only 4.6% of their income in such taxes and those with incomes in excess of $500,000 pay only 2.4%; and

WHEREAS the Washington State Legislature, in session after session, has repeatedly failed to give serious consideration to enactment of a statewide income tax, thereby resulting in a stagnation of revenue for public services needed at the state and local levels, including the constitutionally required “ample provision” for education of all Washington-resident children; and

WHEREAS between 8% and 10% of households in Seattle, and 6% of households in Shoreline, enjoy annual incomes in excess of $200,000; and

WHEREAS local taxes based on income are levied by counties and/or cities in 4,983 jurisdictions across the United States; and

 WHEREAS the Cities of Seattle and Shoreline can, as set  forth below, pioneer a legal pathway to enable both our State and its various local municipalities to enact progressive and robust tax systems; and

WHEREAS the revenues from such a systemic change in taxation could be dedicated to the provision of public services, including housing, education, and transit, as well as for green jobs and replacement of revenue lost from federal budget cuts and as retribution for declarations of sanctuary-city status; and

WHEREAS RCW 35A.11.050 provides that the general grant of municipal power conferred on cities by RCW Chapter 35A “is intended to confer the greatest power of local self-government consistent with the Constitution of this state and shall be construed liberally in favor of such cities”; and

WHEREAS RCW 35A.11.020 provides, in part, that “the legislative body of each code city shall have all powers possible for a city or town to have under the Constitution of this state, and not specifically denied to code cities by law”, and that “Within constitutional limitations, legislative bodies of code cities shall have within their territorial limits all powers of taxation for local purposes except those which are expressly preempted by the state as provided in RCW 66.08.120, 82.36.440, 48.14.020, and 48.14.080”;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we urge the Seattle City Council and the Shoreline City Council to immediately enact ordinances establishing a municipal income tax on their wealthiest residents – e.g., 1.5% on incomes in excess of $250,000 per year. as proposed by the Trump-Proof Seattle Coalition – thereby setting an example for other Washington cities and forging a pathway to tax justice in our state.

Adopted _____________________ by __________________________________

Originated by John Burbank, Economic Opportunity Institute


Edited by Dean Fournier, demdean48@gmail.com