What’s the Case FOR the Seattle “Head Tax”?

I’ve been fairly vocal in my support of the repeal of the Head Tax on social networks like Nextdoor; the first step is to get a referendum on the ballot in November.

I think giving the people a chance to repeal the Head Tax is the right idea. Our City Council has gone off the rails with this and it’s time we send a signal.

A neighbor on Nextdoor asked a great question of me today:  could I take the other side, and help better explain the arguments FOR the Head Tax (at least as I understand them?)

That’s a totally reasonable question.  In fact, it’s not only reasonable, but it’s an important exercise in thinking through where you come down on this issue.  I’ve always felt, and tried to impart to my kids, that we don’t really fully understand an issue or controversy until we can articulate the other side’s point of view honestly.

Easy solutions where everyone agrees don’t become controversies.

By the time something becomes a major controversy, there are usually honest, intelligent and well-intentioned people on each side of this issue.

I’ve posted the SEIU “Decline To Sign” Flyer on the Head Tax above, which I think has many inaccuracies, which I’ll get to in a future post.

But most honest champions of the Head Tax will make their case by saying:

(a) we must have affordable housing in any solution, far more than we currently have, and it’s expensive. And their underlying that view is generally that

(b) the funds for it must come from new sources, not existing ones. They will say that since

(c) Seattle has a highly regressive tax structure,

(d) asking businesses to contribute funding for this need is appropriate and less regressive, because

(e) business growth has been a primary driver of housing prices and

(f) thus homelessness. Many will also concede that

(g) our solutions tried thus far haven’t worked but that this approach is a new one that is likely to have better results. Since the petition basically says “let the citizens have a direct say,” some others may point out that

(h) we elected this City Council, they voted 9-0 and the Mayor has signed it, so let them do their job in representing us.

I think (a)-(h) each have valid challenges to the assumptions made, and over time I’ll address how valid each assumption is.

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