State Supreme Court declines direct review of Seattle income tax. Next stop, state appeals court.

The state Supreme Court yesterday chose not to take up Seattle’s controversial income tax.  

The Seattle Times reports that the city will continue to press its case.

…City Attorney Pete Holmes said the city wouldn’t be giving up.

“While we felt the state Supreme Court was the most appropriate forum to address the constitutional issues we hope to resolve in this case, we’re happy to first take our arguments to the Court of Appeals,” Holmes said.

“Whatever the outcome at the appellate court, either side will have the opportunity to petition our state Supreme Court for appeal.”

The Washington Research Council writes that the city’s case rests on shaky foundations.

The City of Seattle appealed directly to the state Supreme Court [after a Superior Court judge found that the tax was not authorized by the Legislature and that cities are prohibited by statute from imposing a tax on net income] in the hopes that the Supreme Court would address the constitutionality of income taxes. With yesterday’s order, the case will instead go to the Court of Appeals.

In a policy brief last year, we argued that Seattle should abandon the appeal: “There is, after all, a well-established process for changing the state constitution and state statute. It requires legislative action and voter approval; that is, the power of persuasion.”


We’ve followed the issue from the beginning. See these previous posts for more context.