How Seattle Voted to Tax the Rich

Photo by breakmake | CC BY 2.0

Seattle further cemented its reputation as one of the most progressive cities in the U.S. last week, when its City Council passed a law to tax the rich, sponsored by socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant along with Councilmember Lisa Herbold. The law places a 2.25% tax on individual incomes over $250,000 and $500,000 for married couples. It’s expected to raise as much as $175 million to fund affordable housing, education, transit, human services, and other critical needs.

Recognizing the significance of Seattle’s new tax on the rich, the Los Angeles Times reported, “a number of cities have adopted local income taxes, but no other city has solely targeted high earners and few have adopted so high a tax rate. The measure has opened the door to political warfare in the state.” Shortly before the vote, former Microsoft CEO and Seattle billionaire, Steve Ballmer, warned city officials, most of whose campaigns are financed by big business and wealthy individuals, that a tax on the rich would “drive up wages here and cause [company executives] to think about moving jobs elsewhere. That will certainly happen.”

Despite this, the City Council unanimously passed the tax on the rich and a chorus of Democratic establishment politicians sung its praises. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared, “Our goal is to replace our regressive tax system with a new formula for fairness, while ensuring Seattle stands up to President Trump’s austere…

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