The federal government has set up a graduated income tax, where those in higher income brackets pay a higher percentage of their income to the government for those lavish congressional pensions, expensive giveaway programs to illegal aliens, and more.
The city of Seattle wants to do the same, so there should be no problem, right?
Not quite, because it seems the Washington state constitution, which regulates what Seattle does but not necessarily the Internal Revenue Service, requires that all taxes and levies must be “uniform upon the same class of property.”
That means income.
Which, according to a new lawsuit, offers a problem for the city’s plan to single out “high income residents” and charge them a 2.25 percent levy on their income, while sparing everyone else.
The Pacific Legal Foundation has filed the action on behalf of four Seattle residents, David Schock, Sally Oljar, Steve Davies and John Palmer, who oppose the levies that target the financially successful.
The action in King County Superior Court challenges the discriminatory tax for undermining the state constitution’s recognition of personal income as a form of property deserving the same protections as all other forms of property, including protection from discriminatory taxation.
Sen. Tom Coburn has come up with the answer to a Washington bureaucracy that doesn’t seem to care about the Constitution, or American people: An Article V convention, which he describes in “Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop Runaway Government.”
“Seattle’s new tax on upper incomes is billed as a ‘wealth tax,’ but really it’s an ‘achievement tax,’ punishing people for personal success,” said PLF Senior Attorney Brian T. Hodges. “What’s more, it’s unconstitutional. It represents a cynical ploy to use the courts to gut the state constitution’s protections against discriminatory, unequal taxation.
“Seattle wants to free up politicians throughout the state to start imposing targeted income taxes on high earners,” Hodges said. “Undoubtedly, this would be a first step toward eventually expanding the income tax to cover everyone, with disproportionate impact on the middle class and poor.”
It’s the state Supreme Court that repeatedly has defined income as “property,” and that, combined with the state constitution’s demand that taxes must be the same for all property in the same class, provides the basis for the lawsuit’s argument.
“Both the state and federal constitutions prohibit this kind of scheme to unilaterally redefine what constitutes property,” said Hodges. “This case is not about ‘rich versus poor,’ as the city would have everyone believe. It is about protecting well-settled constitutional rights – including property rights – for everyone.”
In a statement released by his lawyers, Shock said, “This lawsuit is essential to protect the people of Seattle, and residents throughout the state, from public officials who seem to think they’re above the law.”
“He and the other three plaintiffs are all subject to the new income tax ordinance, either at its 2.25 percent rate or its placeholder rate of 0 percent that could be raised later. Likewise, all of them are vulnerable to the sponsors’ apparent goal of paving the way for even more income taxes at both the state and local levels in Washington,” PLF argued.
“As this case highlights, PLF fights to uphold constitutional safeguards for everyone’s hard-earned property, no matter what form that property takes,” said PLF President Steven D. Anderson. “Our mission is vital, because a just, prosperous, and free society depends on property rights that are strong and secure.”
“On at least eight occasions between 1930 and 2003, Washington’s Supreme Court held that a tax on property must comply with the Uniformity Clause of Article VII, Section 1, of the Washington State Constitution, which requires that ‘all taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property,'” the complaint establishes.
But Seattle’s council, on July 201, 2017, “voted unanimously to impose a 2.25 percent income tax on individuals who earn over $250,000 in total income per year, and married couples earning over $500,000 in total income per year. Persons with incomes below those amounts are subject to an income tax as well; but for the time being, they are taxed at a rate of zero percent.”
If the city wants to continue that practice, it needs to have the state constitution amended, the brief explained.
“Unlike a typical graduated income in which all persons with an ability to pay bear some tax responsibility, the city’s income tax law states if you’re rich, you pay; if you’re not, you don’t.
“There is no rational basis for this distinction.”