The last time voters passed a graduated statewide income tax in Washington it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1933 as unconstitutional. The state constitution requires property be taxed at a uniform rate, which the court said applied to income in turning down the tax.Of course everyone has to suffer equally...
“This tax is illegal and we are confident an independent judiciary is going to uphold the law, is going to uphold 100 years of precedent,” said David Dewhirst, litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation.
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said he believes city will be able to persuade the state’s top court that the 1930s decision was in error. The state Supreme Court’s attention to current events in recent years, including a ruling that the state was failing to adequately to fund public schools, means the court could be more receptive to taking another look at the income tax issue, he said.
“We’ve acknowledged that this a tenuous legal path forward, but we nonetheless believe it’s viable,” said Mr. Holmes.
David DeWolf, a Gonzaga University School of Law professor emeritus, said the state’s highest court would now be more open to an income tax measure, provided it was statewide and applied to a broader swath of the population, not just a few wealthy residents.
But Mr. DeWolf predicted courts would be skeptical of the Seattle tax because of the restrictions on cities imposing taxes and because of how many people are exempted from paying.
“When you impose a tax it needs to be uniform,” he said.
Thursday, August 10, 2017
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