At Housing Now we take an “all of the above” approach when it comes to increasing funding for affordable housing. Fortunately, there are two major efforts underway to expand funding for housing and related services.
A coalition of groups has formed to pay for critical social programs through a “high earners income tax”. Formed in response to Trump’s election, they seek to protect the city from the likelihood of Federal budget cuts and to expand funding for transportation, housing, and other critical needs. You can find more information about their proposal at https://trumpproofseattle.org/ This proposal has already inspired support from Seattle's Mayor and at least one City Councilmember. As we support this effort, we will endeavor to update this section with the latest income tax news.
The other big proposal is for a sales tax increase to pay for homeless reduction. We have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, a focused effort on finding homes for everyone is long overdue. On the other hand, sales tax is one of our most regressive taxes. Low income people tend to pay a much higher percent of their income towards sales tax then higher income people (citation needed). The propose .01% increase in Sales Tax would cost a low income household $30 per year.
One option which needs to be seriously discussed is a low income tax mitigation program. Ideally it should be an automatic program when people file for their income tax return they get an automatic boost to their refund coming out of city (and or county) funds. This could not only make any tax increases more progressive in their outcomes, it could begin to mitigate what is already one of the most regressive tax structures in the nation. Furthermore, with the structure in place for this program, additional funds from a high earners income tax could boost the size and qualification criteria for this program. We will discuss this concept in further detail in a forthcoming article.