SEATTLE - Seattle’s new mayor believes the city should appeal the recent court decision that states its income tax is illegal.
“It’s my view it should be appealed,” Mayor Jenny Durkan told The Seattle Times. “I think a superior court judge is never in the position to decide what the law for the whole state would be.”
Durkan faced a range of questions during a Seattle Times Facebook live event. Between discussing city growth and her stance on leaf blowers, Durkan was asked if she supported Seattle’s income tax and if she would appeal a recent ruling against the city.
“Right now, my sense is this is a decision that has got to be appealed,” she said.
There are a handful of Seattleites suing the city over its income tax. King County Superior Court Judge John Ruhl decided against Seattle in November. But Seattle has always been aiming its income tax at the state Supreme Court. This is to get an interpretation of the state law changed, and in turn, open up taxing authority for all Washington cities.
The city is now deciding whether to appeal that ruling or not. Durkan’s statement that a superior court judge shouldn’t decide the “law for the whole state” is in line with proponents who argue that the Supreme Court can alter the law to allow cities to impose an income tax.
While Seattle’s new mayor said she wants to discuss the matter with City Attorney Pete Holmes first, she does favor the tax.
“What I’m trying to say is: I want to talk with my lawyer first,” Durkan said. “What are our chances? What is it going to cost? Once we have that information, consult with the city council, and then decide how to move forward.”
“I think it’s a long shot,” she added. “I think under the current state of the law – both state law that prohibits cities from imposing income taxes as well as the constitutional provisions — will strike down our income tax law, but I think we have to find the answer to it.”
Durkan also said that the city could use a recent court ruling on another controversial Seattle tax — the ammunition tax. It was challenged in court and the ruling used language Durkan believes could be used in a case to “grant broader power to cities” to levy taxes.
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