Another lawsuit filed against the Seattle income tax

Pacific Legal Foundation, champion of libertarian legal causes, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle over its recently-passed income tax on high earners.

The lawsuit covers familiar territory, raising the same issues as the first legal challenge. It charges that the tax is prohibited by state law, is not authorized by the legislature, and violates the state constitution’s requirement that taxes on property must be uniform.

What is more amusing is PLF’s hyperbolic PR spin on the income tax. Calling it an “achievement tax,” the press release goes on to label the income tax “a Trojan Horse that threatens the rights of poor and middle class families.”

“The income bands and tax rates are temporary. Experience shows that, once a source of tax revenue opens, the government will mine it—meaning that every income level is now exposed to new taxes. Indeed, if Seattle is successful, it will open the doors to income banded taxation at the city, county, and state level, without limitation.”

It’s fair to argue that if the courts find it legal, the income tax will be expanded — though the elected officials who do so are unlikely to find their power to do so “without limitation.” There’s certainly an appetite to reduce the most regressive state and local taxes in favor of a more progressive income tax. We’ll see how well our politicians do in finding the right balance between offsetting existing taxes versus increasing the overall tax burden.

Pacific Legal Foundation is also suing the city over its “first in time” tenant protection ordinance.

Don’t be surprised if the lawsuits filed in King County Superior Court are consolidated into a single case under one judge.