Dispatches, Education, Local Politics

Grassroots Organizing, in Action: Seattle City Council Unanimously Passes Income Tax Measure


Featured photo courtesy of the Transit Riders Union.

On Monday, the city of Seattle made history.

In a unanimous 9-0 vote, the Seattle City Council approved a measure that would levy an income tax on the city’s wealthiest residents. Led by the Transit Riders Union and dozens of other organizations, the measure will impose a 2.5 percent tax on individual incomes in excess of $250,000 and incomes of couples in excess of $500,000. The tax will affect around 5 percent of the city’s population, and the additional revenue will go toward social services programs throughout the city, make up for any losses in federal funding or reduce certain other taxes.

The Seattle chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America has been proud to stand alongside TRU and other coalition organizations to support the income tax since its inception, and we’re ready to continue the fight for progressive tax policy as the measure will likely be challenged in state Supreme Court.

READ MORE: How collective grassroots action made the income tax happen

As socialists, we believe the adoption of this measure is a positive step toward correcting Washington state’s tax system, which is among the most regressive in the country. It also ensures that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share back to their local economy, and most importantly, it’s a powerful example of what happens when community members and working class individuals band together to enact meaningful change within their communities.

The unanimous city council vote is a victory for all the individuals and organizations that spent months organizing town halls in each city council district, postering across the city and tabling at various other events to spread the word. It shows that when people organize for collective action, real progress is not just an aspirational goal, but actually achievable.

Although yesterday represents a huge victory, the battle is far from over. Income taxation is constitutionally illegal in Washington state, and previous attempts to levy an income tax have failed. The legal battle could drag on for years. But Seattle DSA, along with TRU, Socialist Alternative, 350 Seattle, Nickelsville and dozens of other grassroots organizations and community groups are eager to continue the fight toward a more just taxation system for all.

If you’d like to get involved with the campaign, consider these options:

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