Two Seattle City Council members today called for an employee head tax of up to $18 per year, and a boost in the existing parking tax, to help close the budget shortfall at King County Metro Transit.
Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata said the taxes would raise about $21 million yearly, and would be used to pay for service hours within the city, averting Seattle’s piece of a proposed 16 percent Metro service reduction. Licata said his intent is for the City Council to enact the parking and head taxes, and for citizens to vote on a $60 car tab fee for transit, as required in state codes.
The plan would amend the proposal last week by Mayor Ed Murray to combine a 0.1 percent sales tax boost and a $60 car tab fee. The council members propose that the existing 12.5 percent parking tax rise to 17.5 percent.
Sawant said sales tax is the worst form of taxation because it falls hardest on lower-income people. “This would not be enough to stop regressive taxation in Seattle but it is a start in the right direction,” she said.
Sawant, a socialist, tweeted earlier today: “WA has the most regressive taxes of any state. #taxtherich #taxbigbusiness! itep.org/whopays/” which links to a report showing where low-income workers pay a higher percentage share of taxes than do the wealthy.
Seattle imposed an $25 per year employee tax in 2006 for streets, in the Bridging the Gap program, but repealed it in 2009 due to criticism that it would hurt businesses in the Great Recession. But a property tax, and parking tax, were kept on the books.
City and King County officials have been reluctant to propose direct business taxes in recent years, preferring instead to enlist business coalitions to support road and transit ballot measures.