Freedom Foundation files lawsuit against Seattle's high-income tax


SEATTLE -- A second lawsuit has now been filed against Seattle's high-earners income tax, which City Council passed and Mayor Ed Murray signed only about a month prior.

The Freedom Foundation filed the suit Wednesday in King County Superior Court, saying the new tax is illegal and unconstitutional, according to David Dewhirst, who is a litigation counsel for Freedom Foundation.

The foundation is partnering with Seattle law firm Lane Powell PC to represent 19 plaintiffs, who are residents and taxpayers of the city, Dewhirst said.

The foundation focuses on advancing individual liberty and, Dewhirst said, has always had an interest in taxpayer advocacy.

Dewhirst said the Freedom Foundation believes the tax violates state law for several reasons including that the tax violates the charter of the City of Seattle.

"This is not a power that is delegated to the City Council," he said. "It's the type of issue that should've been decided directly by the people at the ballots."

The ordinance would impose a 2.25 percent tax for single taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 and joint filers who earn more than $500,000.

The first lawsuit was filed 15 minutes after Murray signed the income tax ordinance on July 14.

What is disturbing about the tax, Dewhirst said, is that he believes Seattle council members know the tax is illegal.

"This is definitely a high-profile lawsuit," Dewhirst said. "I think most people understand that this is one of the first major salvos in the fight by some to enact a state-wide income tax."

The City of Seattle now has about 20 days to respond to the lawsuit, according to Dewhirst.

"(We) are excited to vindicate the rights of not just our plaintiffs but the rights of every Seattle taxpayer to be treated equally under the law," Dewhirst said.

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