Freedom Foundation

Judge Schedules Hearing In Freedom Foundation Lawsuit Challenging Seattle Income Tax

In an August 22 order, King County Superior Court Judge John R. Ruhl ruled that he will hear summary judgment arguments on November 17 in Burke, et al. v. City of Seattle, et al, the case brought by Freedom Foundation and Lane Powell PC on behalf of 17 Seattle residents to challenge the City Council’s illegal income tax ordinance. This summary judgment should resolve the case at the trial court and move it to Washington’s appellate courts for final resolution.

The Court was able to set a case schedule so rapidly because all parties acknowledged the issues in this case were legal and would involve no factual discovery.

“This case is first and foremost about the many ways Seattle’s income tax ordinance violates state statutes, the City Charter, and the Washington Constitution,” said David Dewhirst, Freedom Foundation’s Litigation Counsel. “With this case schedule, we’ll hopefully get a ruling declaring the tax unlawful before the year ends.  

The Foundation and Lane Powell will file a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the 17 Burke plaintiffs on October 23.

The City will seek its own summary judgment that the income tax ordinance is lawful and will file its own motion for summary judgment on September 29.

“We’re interested to learn how the City will defend its plainly illegal income tax,” Dewhirst said.
“We’re not even sure they know yet.”

The court will hear the City’s motion together with the Burke plaintiffs’ motion on November 17.

Two other cases challenging the tax, Kunath v. Seattle and Levine v. Seattle, will also argue their summary judgment motions to the court on November 17.

For questions and inquiries, contact David Dewhirst, Freedom Foundation’s Chief Litigation Counsel, at or 360.216.7560.