Dear Mayor Murray,
First a soda tax, then a property tax, and now a countywide sales tax? Why are you considering every tax option except one that would fundamentally transform our unequal tax structure? A progressive income tax on the wealthiest Seattleites would generate revenue equitably, where people of all incomes are contributing their fair share.
This morning the Seattle Times reported that you are abandoning the initiative to raise property taxes to collect funds for services for the houseless. Instead, you plan to work with Dow Constantine and the county to raise sales taxes.
As the Seattle Times points out, this is a regressive tax which will only further burden the poor. When sales taxes are raised, the low and middle class are disproportionately impacted. Already, Washington’s tax structure is the most regressive in the entire country. At this very moment, the low and middle class are bearing the burden of raising revenue in this city and state, and sales tax increases exacerbate this disparity.
Instead of placing an undue burden on the poor and working class, why not place a small tax on the wealthiest among us, who by living here adjust the economy on sales. The poorest people in Seattle already have to pay more for their basic needs as prices go up to match the incomes of the wealthiest people pouring into Seattle. In effect the poor are already paying a tax by sharing this economy with the wealthy. Your proposal is basically an additional sales tax.
The Trump Proof Seattle campaign is asking for a progressive income tax in Seattle that would tax income over $250,000 at 1.5%. This measure would affect the top 5% who should contribute fairly to the city’s revenues. The measure would raise approximately $125 million per year that the city can use toward transportation, affordable housing, lowering regressive taxes and other needs. If this sounds like a radical measure, keep in mind that some of the most conservative states in the US have a comparable income tax. This measure is the first step in catching up to Oklahoma, Alabama, and Kansas.
As members of the Neighborhood Action Coalition, which includes 14 councils in every voting district in the city and beyond, representing over 2,000 Seattleites, we are disappointed that you have yet to meet with us and other coalition leaders of the over 30 other organizations working on this transformative campaign.
Mayor Murray, for 4 months we have been requesting a meeting with you to discuss this matter and despite our greatest efforts, you have yet to respond.
If a coalition of grassroots leaders can’t get a meeting with you, who can? Your wealthy donors?
We understand that this measure will not immediately contribute to city revenue due to the expected court challenge, but we urge you to focus on bringing long-term solutions to Seattle’s long-term needs. A progressive income tax is a sustainable, equitable solution to making Seattle the progressive, forward-thinking, solution-focused city we all are striving to make it.
It is time to shake off the notion that Seattle cannot raise progressive revenue because of this century-long “gentleman’s agreement” of not taxing income. The time to act is now. We must ensure the future of Seattle is more just than its past. A progressive city needs a progressive tax structure- otherwise we’re all talk.
Daniel Goodman (District 3), Max Friedfeld (District 4), Ximena Velazquez-Arenas (District 3) Kaya Axelsson (District 2) of the Greater Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition