Is the election of Donald Trump a good reason to impose a new tax on wealthier Seattleites? Like it or not, it may be on the table this year.
Katie Wilson, general secretary of the Transit Riders Union, is our guest this week on The Overcast.
Speaking to political reporters Jim Brunner and Dan Beekman, she makes the case for a just-unveiled proposal to create a tax on “unearned” income: capital gains, dividends and interest. It would apply to households with adjusted gross incomes of more than $250,000 a year: an estimated five percent to 10 percent of city households.
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Washington state has rejected income taxes repeatedly at the ballot box. The most recent vote was in 2010, where an income tax aimed at the wealthy failed badly statewide. It passed in Seattle.
There also are legal hurdles facing any income tax. Previous court rulings have said an income tax violates Washington’s constitution.
But Wilson says advocates believe the current state Supreme Court would rule differently – and part of her group’s goal is to get that legal test before the court.
“We just returned pretty progressive justices in the last election. The hope is that they would overturn those decisions from the 1930s,” she says.
As for what the revenue would be used for, Wilson said that’s still to be determined. But she’s convinced that looming cuts from the Trump administration will mean the money is needed in Seattle.
“I think there is going to be a continuing need for new sources of progressive revenue,” she says, suggesting one idea would be to replace regressive sales and car tab taxes that are currently paying for bus service.
But would rich people just leave Seattle if this passes? At about 16:58, Wilson gives her response to that frequently-lobbed objection.
The tax plan could go before the Seattle City Council in the coming months, and possibly be put to a public vote later this year.
Also, Beekman and Brunner run down this week’s winners and losers, featuring immobile drivers and a resourceful taco truck.
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