Seattle's Homelessness Crisis Will Never Be Solved Until We Fix Washington's Grossly Unfair Tax System



Take your income tax and shove it right up your ass.


Yes, if you ignore the initiative system and continue telling yourself that anyone who points out you can take in income as an LLC and pay taxes with zero income is a right wing troll.

Until you have the numbers for individuals acting as a corporate entity with an LLC you’re just another one of the people riding BMX bikes around, walking around with backpacks, and living in their vehicles that are not from here and are not looking for work.


@1 a vast majority of the states have an income tax.


It looks like we'll never solve the Homelessness Crisis, then.

"We can't fix X until we fix Y" is a recipe for inaction. For instance: "We'll never solve Mass Shootings until we fix the Mental Health Crisis".


We absolutely need a state income tax. We have the most regressive taxation system in the country. Unlike goofy ideas of just taxing businesses in our largest city (something easy for companies to walk away from by hopping across a city border), there's no escaping state-level income taxes since almost every other state has one.


What a broad jump in logic.

Let's look at this objectively:

Other states with state income tax have terrible homeless California, New York, Oregon.... How does your theory explain that one?

Other cities in Washington, which are far more conservative, again no income tax, have virtually no homeless problems.

If you're point is you think the tax system in Washington is regressive .... I"ll agree, but its not an established fact this is linked to homelessness.

I'd wager more homelessness was caused by $15 Now, Drugs and the stupid Seattle City Council policies than any regressive tax system.

By the by....wasn't $15 now supposed to have eradicated the homelessness and poverty?

It didn' just got rid of all entry jobs for the unskilled leaving them without income.

Now I wonder if you have no job or income would that be a leading cause of homelessness?


No mistral, 100/15==100/10.

Lalalalalalala I can’t hear you.


The head tax was not thought out and needed to go but we need an income tax yesterday.


@7 Highly risible.

Alas..... there are many other things you can't do when you don't listen...such as learn, comprehend, think and understand.

But each to their own....if putting your fingers in your ears and saying la, la, la is your thing...then good for you. I'm sure it will serve you well.


The Poppe Report said we could end homelessness in Seattle with the resources we’re currently spending. The City is implementing the recommendations in the Poppe Report. Voters rejected the EHT because it was a tax on our jobs which would have wasted money.

None of this has anything to do with Washington State’s tax system. (As the EHT was not progressive, it would not have helped make our state’s tax system less regressive.)

This post is yet another re-hash of the same failed talking points which resulted in the 7-2 repeal of the EHT. Try learning something from that loss before posting again, Stranger.


"I’ll advocate for ending the tax break on capital gains—profits from the sale of high dollar assets that are only accessible to the top one percent."

Sumayyah, when you spout lies such as this, it makes it hard to take anything else you say seriously. Assets that are subject to capital gains are not solely the purview by the 1%, and you know it. The fact that you are a "director" makes this all the more laughable.


Certain jobs need a minimum of $15 or the bosses will not get the job experience they need. I started an entry level job at $16.50 and I feel like I moved up in the world. It's not much, but we have to appreciate the little thing in life.


Trying to pass an income tax is a political dead-end, no matter how reasonable it might be to have one. To “solve” homlessness (there is no solution - only more or less of it, better or worse harm reduction), you have to find ways of taxing things people see as somehow unnecessary personal choices. The lottery and sin taxes are not questioned, so if someone can put a real plan in place, get public buy-in and then raise money through some sort of special tax, now you might be onto something.

Editorializing for an income tax is just whistling into the wind.


@6 "What a broad jump in logic"
so much irony

@10 lying, ignored.


Is anyone really stupid enough to think that implementation of an income tax will result in the significant lowering of "regressive" taxes?


@15: if it's accompanied by a comprehensive reform of ALL state taxation, it could.

when I left Ohio many years ago, there was a state income tax, but the sales tax was about half of WA's - 5 point something %. if I pay the same amount under both methods, but Bezos pays more and a poor person pays less, what's the problem?



The answer is regrettably ... Yes, just look @14 ....they live in an alternative universe with leprechauns, unicorns and little pink socialist mice running all around


I don't have the answer but an income tax on the high-level earners would be a good start. Our city is fraying at the seams, it's dirty, smelly and full of deranged humans who desperately need to be locked up for the common good (and their own). That takes bucks. How about all those high-paid tech people fork over some of their new wealth to prevent us all from being attacked by wackos on the street. Civic duty, done!


"...our state's tax code drives Seattleites into homelessness at a sickening rate."

Where is the data that actually supports this statement? How many homeless peoples' last known residence was in Seattle or King County even? For whatever reason, those numbers never get included in reporting on the issue.


What Washington has is high sales taxes. The rest of its taxes are not that high compared to what people are taxed, in toto, in other states. Yes sales tax is the most regressive tax. But, I had a much greater overall tax burden other places I've lived before moving to Washington.

State income taxes are no small thing, and they never replace or lower other taxes. In many states with income taxes, social security is taxed as regular income. That's a huge burden for those on small fixed retirement incomes, which is the majority of Washington's retirees living outside Seattle..

Seattle's homelessness problem is also a problem of affordability and widespread low wages, in every sector except the tech sector, that have NOT kept pace with the area's runaway cost of living inflation. Even a $15.00 minimum wage is chump change (yeah, shut up those of you still whining about it) in today's overpriced Seattle metropolitan area.

Creating new taxes would just be applying a band aid to a gaping festering wound. They can't/won't raise enough money to alleviate the problem unless those taxes are so high they disrupt the local economy. Meanwhile, the Trump tariff war is projected to have a huge negative impact on Washington's economy (Washington is one of the states expected to be hit the hardest). We can't count on enough taxable money being there to raise enough revenue. And if those projections are close to accurate, our homeless crisis is only going to get a hell of a lot worse. We'll never catch up.


@19, thank you for pointing out the complete lack of data to support the crux of the author’s argument. We have no idea how many of Seattle’s now-homeless were ever stably housed in Seattle, let alone how many of those persons were somehow taxed into homelessness.

“...per employee tax that would only have affected the most profitable 3 percent of Seattle’s businesses...”

Wrong. It would have hit any business with annual gross revenues above $20M, whether those businesses had any net income (“profits”) at all.

If your tax expert does not know the difference between gross revenues and income, why should we believe anything else this person writes?

@14: with such brilliant analytical skills, how are you not already The Stranger’s lead economic reporter?


There are many great arguments to be made for making our tax system in Washington State less regressive. Yet more whiny sore-loser complaining about repeal of Seattle’s EHT, complete with unsupported assertions and flat-out wrong statements, does nothing positive for the cause of statewide progressive taxation.


@22 Oregon's hand-wringers complain that it is the lack of a sales tax that prevents them from Utopia.


A lot of people in this state don't want an income tax - even though on the lower end sales taxes are far more regressive as noted in the graphic - simply because too many of them operate under the illusion they may someday magically find themselves in one of those upper income brackets. It'll never happen of course, but they still keep buying Power Ball tickets, so, you know, they're going to keep that dream alive, even if it squeezes them dry as a sponge in a desert.



Meanwhile, people who live with 20 or 30 miles of the border will spend $20 on gas to cross into Oregon in order to save $10 at the grocery store...


@25 Or, they come from high-tax states like California, Illinois, and New York where they witnessed first hand how excessive taxation did not make anything better, just everyone poorer. Illinois has tax rates that would make you (yes you Comte) cry and they are broke beyond hope. California's future pension obligations will not be met.


This one is going to blow a few not-so-prettty little minds.

Did you know that if you lowered the sales tax our system of taxation would become less regressive?



I like the rich, they pay most of the taxes.


It was tough finding the flaw in their argument, but I managed to find it!

First line: "Washington State: Where the rich pay less, the poor pay more, and the upside-down tax code "drives Seattleites into homelessness at a sickening rate.""

Read the whole thing three times, and didn't find one citation drawing a causation between higher taxes for poor, and lower taxes for wealthy.

Wait a second here...was this an opinion piece???



Hmm, maybe they should have made the big orange chart oranger.


The 500k guy is paying $12000 in tax while the 27k chick (let's be honest) is paying 3500
What added benefit is Rich guy getting for paying 4 times as much?


32 Rich guy gets to sleep with the chick


The worst kind of greed is the sense of entitlement to someone else's income.


"Last year, 169 people died WHILE homeless." Don't mistaken that for 169 people died BECAUSE of homelessness.


So at the start of this piece, the author states that the Head Tac wouldn’t have solved the homelessness crisis. Then, a few paragraphs later, killing the head tax will cause people to sleep outdoors. Which is it?


If Washington continues to shift blue we will see an income tax. A combination of desperation in Olympia (McLeary) and tacit approval by C of C type Republicans finally relenting.
The logic is compelling, opponents should reconcile themselves to it.
The baby boomers are starting to die off and the millenials who will be deciding this will have had different life experiences. It is apparent from these comments that opponents are just re-hashing exhausted arguments and appealing to sentiments of cynicism and resentment. Young folks want solutions and are open to experiment.


This definitely doesn't take into consideration property taxes... ...i'm the 250 000 range and pay 6% just property taxes.


If you want to make income tax palatable to more people, make it revenue-neutral.

If you want to take a bite out of homelessness, raise property taxes on vacant rental properties to the point where rent-seekers will be economically compelled to either lower rent or sell the property and move on to other investments.

It comes down to who really holds the reins in Seattle. If it takes the city six months to pass a head tax, and just 24 hours to repeal it, who is really in charge of the city?


Tax the insanely rich who can obviously afford it al-fucking-ready!


There is no constitutional barrier to a single rate income tax at the state level.

There is an old, weird, by one vote ruling against a graduated income tax.

The real problem is the voters, and the non-voters.


The poor pay more? No, they pay a higher percent. The rich pay far more in actual dollars.

Remember - over $1 billion is currently being spent in WA to "fix" homelessness. More money isn't going to help.


Have any of the facts about where the "homeless" in our city are actually from been established? In my profession I have frequent contact with the homeless population in Seattle and in my experience with this population it is striking just how many of these people are not from Seattle, King County or even the State of Washington. In my opinion there are two main reasons as to why we have such a large homeless population in Seattle: 1. because there are many resources here for the homeless and 2. a city council that has tossed out the rule of law which engenders in our city a climate of lawlessness and anarchy; an environment that some 'homeless' people prefer.


I see a lot of arguments here, many of them solid, but I'd like to see the principles of the effort stated up front and then an execution plan that is achievable. Otherwise it sounds like a marketing pitch for something ill defined.


except that as soon as you do the math and figure out what each of those income levels is paying in taxes, you see that the tax burden is still increasing in actual dollar value as income increases. 507K paying 4.6% is 23.3K, 21K paying 16.8% is only 3.5K. Yay math


Total nonsense. The poor are not paying 16.8% of their meager income in taxes. The study fails to account for tax benefits received. A person making 22K is getting Medicaid, rent vouchers and any number of social service and other benefits. And that does not include federal food stamps and other benefits.

And suggesting that short of enforcing laws, our homeless situation will improve with more taxes is a pipe dream. I have zero interest in funding the decisions and lifestyles of those who have drifted to Seattle because of our implicit and explicit welcome to come on by, pitch your tent, shoot up, crap and steal on our streets! And you want to give free shelter to these parasites? Great idea. All we will get are destroyed shelters and a whole lot more people exercising their freedom to travel, to show up in Seattle and con more like the author that but for my paying more taxes, they would be living the dream.


I think it would be very interesting and informative if The Stranger did a report on how much taxes are paid to the state of Washington or city of Seattle, as a percentage of revenue, that make over $20 million in revenue a year?


I'm not opposed to a state income tax. I think the 10.1% sales tax is insane.

However, you told us that the $15 wage was needed and would reduce homelessness. You told us this with sick pay, you told us this with secure scheduling, etc. Yet, it has only gotten worse. AND it has made things more expensive which hits the poor particularly hard. Do you see where people have stopped believing.

And, while I agree our tax here is regressive you fail to take into account the benefits people get on the lower end (which actually goes pretty high). The person making $40, their kids eat free, every meal, scholarships for everything, free preschool, the list goes on and on. Every time I write a check, there is a box where I could get a scholarship or reduced price if I was not so privileged to make a good salary.

Quite honestly, articles like this make me sick, because instead of accepting the reality of much of our homeless situation and focusing on solutions, folks are using the homeless situation to drive their own political agenda.


correction to the title: We can't fix the homeless crisis until they start getting jobs and are willing to commute to and from work like a vast majority of those that live in the US. I know there is an affordability issue, but you can't have your cake and eat it too. The programs we have are just for them to get "homes." So what happens after that? Some have jobs and that helps them a lot get back in the game. But those that don't have job because they need training and such in a new profession or just training period need a means to do so or they are going to stay unemployed and unable to stay in a home that they need to pay for thus making them homeless again.... Building them homes wont fix their situation permanently. Nor will what we seem to think is the answer so far of not enforcing laws on them. This situation is bad all around, but we need to expand our scope beyond housing to a way they can stay off the streets by applying for and getting jobs. Writing resumes, cover letters. Before anyone yells about them not having computers, libraries would be a good resource. If we had programs for this (which I am sure Washington State does have), this might also be something we invest all this money in that the city seems to be taking in from taxes to "help" the homeless...... just a thought......


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