McKenna on KIRO: Seattle city council wants an income tax

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the Seattle City Council’s drive to pass a city income tax. Advocates of a state income tax are trying to pass an income tax somewhere in Washington to set up a test case at the state Supreme Court.

Dave Ross: “We should just say up front, you don’t like the income tax idea. What I wanted to do was give people a feeling for whether this has any chance at all of getting through the Supreme Court of not. If you can come up with any argument that the pro-income tax side could use before the Supreme Court that you think might gain some traction, given that the state Supreme Court does kind of have a reputation for being sort of flexible these days.”

Rob McKenna: “What the City of Seattle would have to do is persuade the Supreme Court to overlook its own precedent, which it could do by redefining the concept of property in Washington state.

“But they would also have to persuade the Supreme Court to ignore an existing state statute which prohibits counties [and] cities…from imposing a tax on net income, which is the exact phrasing of the statute. So the state law appears to prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting local income taxes.

“Then they would get to the constitutional question of whether the Supreme Court is willing to overturn its own precedents dating back to the 1930s.”

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