Setting up a test case for an income tax

May 3, 2017

Advocates of an income tax last year managed to collect signatures to place one proposal on the ballot in the city of Olympia. When voters rejected the idea, they took their campaign to the city of Seattle — where the council voted May 1 to direct staff to come up with a detailed proposal. Though a municipal income tax is certain to face a legal challenge, advocates make no secret of the fact that their plan is to put the issue before the state Supreme Court, which they hope will overturn its 1933 ruling declaring an income tax to be unconstitutional.


Seattle Times, May 1, 2017: Seattle City Council votes to pursue income tax on ‘high-end households’

“Proponents of Seattle’s enacting an income tax say today’s state Supreme Court could interpret the constitution differently, and the city may attempt to sidestep the 1984 law [prohibiting municipal income taxes] by taxing a type of income other than net income.”


Seattle Times, April 21, 2017: Debate over a Seattle income tax is heating up – How did we get here?

Describing proposals for a Seattle income tax: “The [Trump Proof Seattle] coalition says a Seattle income tax would almost certainly be challenged in court and could serve as a legal test case with statewide implications.”


Publicola, April 21, 2017: First the city, then the state: The fight for an income tax begins (again)

John Burbank, Economic Opportunity Institute: “What we want is to bring it to the Supreme Court for review and reverse their decisions from 1933 and 1935.”


The (Tacoma) News Tribune, Oct. 16, 2016: How an Olympia ballot measure could pave the way for a statewide income tax

Regarding last year’s unsuccessful income-tax ballot measure in the city of Olympia: “…The measure, which would levy an income tax on Olympia residents whose household income exceeds $200,000, is likely to end up in the courts if it passes. A legal challenge could give the state Supreme Court a chance to reverse its 1930s decisions that struck down graduated state income taxes as unconstitutional.”