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On November 22, 2017, the King County Superior Court granted our motion for summary judgment and striking down as illegal Seattle’s progressive income tax law. Notably, the Honorable Judge Ruhl adopted every single one of the argument we formulated. Because the Judge struck down the law on various state law grounds, he did not even need to reach the constitutional issues. This means that on appeal, the primary issues before the higher courts will be whether the Seattle tax violates several state laws.

This is a profound victory for the rule of law. The Court did exactly what courts should do: remind powerful political leaders that they are not above the law. Seattle residents and freedom-lovers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. The fight will continue, but the first round was a resounding win.

The Judge’s Order is located here.

The News Release with more information is located here.

Next Steps

The City has requested direct review of the case before the Washington Supreme Court. The City’s legal team hope to bypass the Court of Appeals and force the high court to address constitutional issues – like the applicability of the Uniformity Clause in Article VII § 1 – which are not properly before the appellate courts. For the City to win, a court would have to overturn each holding by Judge Ruhl that the Seattle tax violates state law provisions. Then, the appellate court would have to address constitutional issues Judge Ruhl explicitly left unaddressed. Our team has set the board in the optimal position. We’re hopeful for victory, and we’ll continue to press forward in partnership with the very finest tax litigators, our friends at Lane Powell.

Background

On July 10, 2017, the Seattle City Council adopted a progressive, targeted income tax. This tax violates several state laws and constitutional provisions. The Seattle City Council knows it. But it hopes that Washington courts will abdicate their judicial duties, depart from clear precedent, and uphold its tax.

 

The City Council claims this tax remediates inequality. It doesn’t. It institutionalizes inequality.

That’s why the Freedom Foundation partnered with the best state and local taxation attorneys in the Pacific Northwest to attack and strike down this ordinance. The amazing team pairs Lane Powell’ tax expertise savvy with the Foundation’s constitutional and public law litigation practice. We believe in every person’s right to equal treatment under law. Seattle’s law stands for something else – that some people can be singled out and punished in the name of “progress.”

Find regular updates on our case here. We must fight this battle, here and now, to prevent a statewide income tax, later. Freedom Foundation has the strategy and the team to win. But we need your help.


Press Coverage

Wall Street Journal – An Income Tax By Any Other Name

National TV

Local TV

  • KOMO 4 (ABC): Freedom Foundation’s Lawsuit Against Seattle’s Income Tax
  • KIRO 7 (CBS): Freedom Foundation, Opportunity For All File Lawsuits
  • KIRO 7 (CBS): Freedom Foundation, Opportunity For All File Lawsuits
  • KING 5 (NBC): Freedom Foundation’s Lawsuit Against Seattle’s Income Tax
  • Q13 (FOX): Mentions The Lawsuits, But No Freedom Foundation Mentions

National Articles

Local Articles 

Local Radio

Video


Press Releases


Important Case Documents


For questions and inquires, contact David Dewhirst at DDewhirst@FreedomFoundation.com

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