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The intellectual dishonesty of Seattle's planned income tax on 'high earners'

Income tax, tax the rich KOMO crowd signs.jpg
Supporters of a Seattle city income tax pack a city council hearing where the public had their chance to speak in opposition or in favor of a proposal to tax income above $250,000 per individual or $500,000 per household at 2% per year. Seattle officials claim it would generate about $125 million annually. (photo credit: KOMO News).

With the vision of Seattle City Councilmembers like Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold, the Seattle City Council is poised to pass a 2% income tax on so-called 'high (salary) earners'. One of the main justifications for adopting a city-wide income tax is that the current reliance on sales tax and property tax is regressive and hurts low income people.

The city's current combined sales tax collection on any retail transaction is 9.6% (6.5% is the state tax level, 2.7% is the city's tax level and there's an extra 0.4% collected for Sound Transit/Regional Transit Authority).

Any city-wide (or statewide, for that matter) income tax collection would appear to be a violation of the State of Washington Constitution. The Director for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center in Seattle, Jason Mercier, points out that previous attempts at installing a statewide or city-wide income tax have been struck down in court.

Any Seattle income tax will certainly be challenged in court. Nonetheless, income tax supporters among the city council members remain defiant, refusing to acknowledge the Constitutional conflict.

But let's bring this back to the primary reason that income tax supporters say Seattle should 'tax the rich': because reliance on only sales tax and property tax hurts the poor.

If these council members like Sawant and Herbold, as well as their "socialist alternative" supporters, are truly interested in helping the low income residents in Seattle over-come this regressive tax burden, why haven't they vowed to roll back Seattle's portion of the 2.7% sales tax and make their projected $125 million per year income tax on 'high earners' revenue neutral? Shouldn't Seattle's low income and working poor residents be able to gain something from this??

As it stands right now, there is no plan to lower Seattle's portion of the sales tax in Seattle. Seattle's low income and poor people will still be paying exorbitant sales tax.

That's why this Seattle plan to 'tax the rich' is so pathetic. It is merely a money grab for the greedy city council who wants to spend more--roughly $125 million more--of someone else's money each year. And spending someone else's money is the easiest thing to do in life.

There are many other reasons to oppose Seattle's income tax, too, but this justification that income tax is needed because Seattle's current tax burden is regressive is the most blatantly obvious.

--Producer Philip Vandervort @SeaPhilGo

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