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Court: Seattle ‘wealth tax’ is illegal

“The city knowingly violated several laws in imposing this tax”

(National SentinelPunishing Success: The city of Seattle’s tax on “wealthy” households has failed its first legal challenge after a King County Superior Court judge ruled it illegal.

In a summary judgment, Judge John R. Ruhl agreed with multiple challengers that the city ordinance adopted in July is not authorized under state law, the Seattle Times reported.

The ruling was applauded by opponents and legal challengers who said the city has long known the tax was not legal but nevertheless pushed it through.

“The city knowingly violated several laws in imposing this tax,” said Brian T. Hodges, a senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing a number of Seattle residents who are challenging the law. “This ruling is probably the worst scenario for the city and the best scenario for the opponents of the income tax.”

That said, the city is already planning to appeal the ruling to the State Supreme Court where they always believed that the case would end up, a spokesperson for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes told the paper in an email.

Holmes and Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess, both Democrats, said that their goal remains getting rid of the city’s regressive sales taxes and to ensure that the wealth pay their fair share.

The Times said that Washington’s tax system has been called one of the most regressive in the country, taxing lower earners at higher rates than wealthy earners.


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The tax law the city is defending in court pegs the “wealthy” as single earners making $250,000 or more per year, and $500,000 for couples. The tax, signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle measure would impose a 2.25 percent tax on those earners.

Backers of the law say the increased income taxes would help lower property taxes and provide money to finance low-income housing.

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