City Council committee approves income tax on rich Seattleites

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SEATTLE -- Seattle City Council's Finance Committee approved a new tax on high-income households.

Under the proposal, a 2.25 percent tax would be placed on joint filers’ income over $500,000 and single tax filers’ income over $250,000.

Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold proposed the tax that they originally estimated would bring $125 million in new annual revenue.

The committee said the additional funds would allow the city to lower the burden associated with property taxes and other regressive taxes, calling the tax "a step toward a fairer tax system."

"In Washington, our lowest-income households pay approximately 16.8% of their income on state and local taxes. Our wealthiest neighbors pay just 2.4%. This system is unfair and upside down.

"State tax reform is urgently needed so our lowest-income residents pay less, our middle-class neighbors pay about the same, and our highest-income residents pay more. This type of tax reform is especially important now and Seattle is going to start the conversation," Councilmember Tim Burgess said in a statement after the committee approved the new income tax.

In the statement, Burgess brought up the state legislature's new school funding measure that he says is the largest property tax increase in Seattle's history and it will add about $460 a year to the property tax on a median Seattle home.

"It's another blow to the middle class. We have a better plan, a tax system that is fair, progressive, and adequate to meet the demand for public services. The state legislature should follow our lead," Burgess said.

The additional revenue from the new income tax will also replace federal funding potentially lost through President Donald Trump’s budget cuts and enhance public services such as housing, education, and transit.

The full council is set to consider the proposal Monday, July 10.