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KVI Analysis: why Seattle's appeal of legal loss on income tax may help Republicans

Income tax, tax the rich, Kshama Sawant KOMO.jpg
KVI's John Carlson urges incoming Seattle mayor, Jenny Durkan, to abandon any appeal of last week's King County Superior Court decision that said Seattle's recently enacted income tax on high salary earners is un-constitutional. (photo: KOMO News)

Today, Tuesday November. 28, 2017, is the first day in office for Seattle's mayor-elect, Jenny Durkan.

If Mayor Durkan is smart, she will drop the city's legal appeal of last week's ruling against the city's income tax on high earners which was ruled un-constitutional by King County Superior Court judge, John R. Ruhl.

In my new column for Crosscut.com, I explain why Seattle's legal team (note that they're hiring outside counsel to defend their blatantly un-constitutional law) will continue to lose on a high earner income tax even if the Supreme Court of Washington (SCOW) manages to distort the law to uphold an income tax.

Here's part of my conclusion on Crosscut about the SCOW ruling in favor of an income tax:

"But let’s say they do. Does Seattle’s income tax ordinance take effect?

No.

A state statute, dating back to the Governor John Spellman era in the early 1980s (Spellman was Washington’s last Republican Governor), states that no government jurisdiction (including cities and counties) can impose a tax on net income. Assuming the Legislature doesn’t repeal the law (and it won’t), we’re back in court. Seattle will argue that its ordinance is legal because it taxes more than just net income, an argument that did not impress Judge Ruhl. The Supreme Court would have to find flaws with Judge Ruhl’s decision and declare that taxing more than net income doesn’t have the effect of also taxing net income. Again, doubtful.

But let’s say they do. Can Seattle start soaking the rich?

No.

Every lower level of government that wishes to impose a new tax must get authorization to do so from the Legislature."

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