Two years ago, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant sponsored legislation to Tax the Rich. Through the leadership of the Trump-Proof Seattle coalition, which included the Economic Opportunity Institute, Transit Riders Union, Seattle Education Association, and Kshama’s Council Office, our grassroots movement fought for and won the historic ordinance to Tax Seattle's Rich!
Our movement had predicted that the ordinance would be challenged in the courts, due to two principal legal obstacles put in place decades ago by big business and the wealthy, who have an interest in preserving an unjust system. These legal obstacles have remained unchallenged, with successive City and State politicians refusing to take on big business and the wealthy. In a big victory for working people earlier this week, the WA Court of Appeals struck down one of those two legal objections to taxing wealthy households, giving the State Supreme Court the first opportunity in almost a century to rule in favor of progressive taxation in Washington State.
Seattle and Washington State have the nation’s most regressive tax systems. As a result, the rich get richer — with the world’s only two members of the $100 billion club residing in the Seattle region — as public education, affordable housing, social services, and infrastructure are abysmally underfunded. Unlike the regressive taxes in Seattle, which fall overwhelmingly on the shoulders of working people and the poor, our Tax the Rich ordinance would only tax incomes over $250,000. Because so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few millionaires and billionaires, a tiny 2.25% tax on Seattle’s richest residents would raise an estimated $140 million annually, enough to build almost 1,000 high-quality, affordable homes each year!
This ruling is a huge step forward towards taxing the rich, but our movement cannot afford to become complacent. This battle is not over. If we finally prevail in the courts, big business and the super rich will continue to use their power and wealth to undermine our victories. Working people will need to continue to organize and unite in powerful movements.
We saw how far Jeff Bezos and his billionaire buddies went last year to bully our city, following which a majority of City Councilmembers shamefully capitulated and repealed the Amazon tax on Seattle’s biggest businesses. The top priority for Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce this year is to try and drive Kshama Sawant out of City Hall, because they are determined to maintain their cushy handouts and huge tax breaks. That’s why corporate PACs are spending more in District 3 against Kshama Sawant than in any other race in the city. Don’t let the big business and the super rich get their way — please chip in $25 today to re-elect Kshama Sawant and continue our movement to tax the rich!
Like Seattle’s victories on the $15 minimum wage and landmark renters’ rights ordinances, our struggle to #TaxTheRich affirms that when our local movements act with courage, we can make change happen. At a time of record-breaking inequality, working people can’t afford to wait for the politicians in Olympia to act, which they have failed to do over many decades. In the fight to win rent control in Seattle, we must also not passively wait for permission from State Legislators, but instead actively fight to win a comprehensive rent control ordinance here in Seattle. Join us at the Rent Control Rally this Saturday, July 20 at 6:00PM at the All Pilgrims Christian Church in Capitol Hill!