Public hearing on Seattle income tax expected to be packed

Large crowds are expected to attend a public hearing in Seattle as city council members discuss a controversial measure to adopt an income tax for the wealthy.

Some local activist groups are urging people to pack City Hall for Wednesday morning's meeting.

The Seattle Democratic Socialists of America, the Seattle Transit Riders Union and others have sent out the word to be at City Hall at 9 a.m. to support the council's progressive income tax proposal.

According to a report the council committee will hear Wednesday morning, Seattle has the most regressive state and local tax system in the country.

Regressive tax means the rate goes down as personal incomes go higher--lower income earners pay higher tax rates than the highest earners.

The proposal would reverse that and create a progressive tax, where the wealthiest pay the highest tax rate.

Proponents say it would create a more even playing field in a city that's becoming too expensive for low to middle income taxpayers to afford.

But the "tax the rich" narrative has another side.

Critics say the majority of the wealthiest taxpayers in Seattle are small business owners, managers and professionals with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Some believe a progressive tax would create an unfriendly business climate and could drive companies away or prevent new ones from forming.

And it’s illegal for cities to impose an income tax under the Washington State constitution, so if it passes, it will no doubt be challenged and likely reversed.

Wednesday’s hearing is just before a committee. The council hopes to take a vote this summer.