Washington senator introduces bill allowing local income tax if other taxes are cut

Some Washington cities like Seattle have openly discussed a citywide personal income tax, despite the fact that the state constitution prevents cities from doing so. A state legislator is trying to pave the way for future implementation.

The idea of ​​a city-enacted personal income tax has been hotly debated, but that can only happen if state legislatures pass legislation.

History has shown that the idea of ​​a personal income tax in a state that doesn’t have one – because the constitution doesn’t allow it – is basically only popular with politicians and not taxpayers.

Democratic State Senator Bob Hasegawa introduced SB 5554, which would eliminate “the ban on local net income taxes if certain tax neutrality requirements are met.”

“There are rumors that an income tax is unconstitutional, and that’s what it looks like too,” Hasegawa said of the bill.

“The tools in the local government toolbox are so restrictive that if they want to create services to provide the people who need them, the only sources of revenue they have are to raise regressive taxes, which imposes those same people they claim to serve,” he explained.

The Seattle City Council has been rumored to pass a citywide income tax, only to expect a court battle. Hasegawa’s bill would open the door somewhat, empowering any city to pass a personal income tax, but only if the city cuts other city-implemented taxes like sales taxes. , property taxes or utility taxes.

“If a city wants to impose an income tax and go through this conversion process of eliminating regressive taxes, then so be it. Let the battle begin on the legal front,” Hasegawa said.

However, during a Senate hearing early Thursday morning, Hasegawa’s bill appeared to go unnoticed by cities clamoring for permission to impose a personal income tax.

No city testified for it, and three people testified against it.

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