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Capital Gains Tax Under Consideration in Seattle

A proposed capital gains tax would invest $37 million per year in solving affordable housing and homelessness crises in Seattle.
June 28, 2020, 9am PDT | Lee Flannery
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In Seattle, three tax measures are on the table, reports Natalie Bicknell: "the $500 million 'Amazon Tax' sponsored by Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales, and the $200 million 'JumpStart Seattle' plan put forth recently by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. Now Councilmember Andrew Lewis has introduced a third measure into the mix, a 1% capital gains tax on stocks and bonds when sold for profit that Council Central Staff estimate could raise roughly $37 million per year." The income from the proposed capital gains tax would be used to bankroll homeless and affordable housing services in Seattle. 

Given the financial hardship caused by the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, increasing revenue is an issue of great concern to Seattle lawmakers. The financial strain felt by low-income Seattleites means the solution needs to avoid regressive taxation by all means possible. A Washington State Supreme Court ruling reaffirming income is property (and therefore taxable) makes an income tax a regressive option standing in stark contrast to a capital gains tax, which has long been on the table, but has not garnered widespread support in the past. "The fact that the tax’s proceeds would be earmarked specifically for permanent supportive housing and homeless services could bolster support," observes Bicknell.

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Published on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 in The Urbanist
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