A Better Tax System

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Checklist-1622517_640Last week, I offered recipients of my E-Newsletter an opportunity to participate in a quick poll regarding a city income tax on high-income residents. The response was very impressive: the survey received about 5,800 responses over four days. Clearly, this is a hot topic and Seattle residents want to be heard.

This was not a scientific survey, and was never meant to be. It was also possible for individuals to respond to the poll more than once, if they were so devious as to do so. There was no evidence of attempts to unfairly influence results large enough to have a significant effect.

The poll results did produce some interesting, if not entirely surprising, insights. A majority of respondents, 54%, self-identified as progressive, followed by 38% moderate, and 7% conservative. (Just 2% of respondents did not select any of these options.)

Survey political alignment

Significant majorities of respondents believed our state tax system to be unfair, inadequate, and not transparent. The three charts below show the breakdown of responses to the question of whether our tax system is…

Survey tax system

I’ve discussed this before on my blog, and many of you seem to agree: our tax system is terribly unfair. When asked how they thought the city government should use income tax revenues, by far the greatest number of poll respondents rated reducing the impact of regressive taxes as their top priority, followed in descending order by spending on public services, a mix of lowering regressive taxes and new funding for public services, backfilling federal funding cuts, and green jobs and carbon reduction goals.

The City Council adopted Resolution 31747 in May, expressing our intent to adopt a progressive income tax on high-income households, and is now considering an ordinance to do just that. You can read the bill here. The Council’s finance committee will discuss this legislation again on Friday, June 30 at 1:00 pm and July 5 at 9:30 a.m. If you wish to view the proceedings, you can watch the live stream on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website, or attend in person at Seattle City Hall, Council Chambers, Second Floor, 600 4th Ave., Seattle 98104.

Click here to download the survey data.