The Denver Post - - BUSINESS -

SEAT­TLE» Seat­tle’s wealth­i­est would be­come the only Washington state res­i­dents to pay an in­come tax un­der leg­is­la­tion ap­proved by the City Coun­cil, a mea­sure de­signed as much to raise rev­enue as to open a broader dis­cus­sion about whether the wealthy pay their fair share.

The coun­cil voted unan­i­mously Mon­day to im­pose a 2.25 per­cent tax on the city’s high­est earn­ers. Per­sonal in­come in ex­cess of $250,000 for in­di­vid­u­als and in ex­cess of $500,000 for mar­ried cou­ples fil­ing joint re­turns would be taxed.

The mea­sure is cer­tain to face a court chal­lenge from op­po­nents who call the tax pro­posal il­le­gal, un­con­sti­tu­tional and a waste of tax­payer money.

The coun­cil is “go­ing to unan­i­mously adopt an il­le­gal in­come tax that has no hope of tak­ing ef­fect and will waste tax­payer re­sources on lit­i­ga­tion the city is sure to lose,” said Ja­son Mercier, who di­rects the cen­ter for govern­ment re­form with the Washington Pol­icy Cen­ter.

Sup­port­ers of the new tax say the city’s eco­nomic growth and pros­per­ity has cre­ated sig­nif­i­cant wealth and op­por­tu­nity, but it also has ex­ac­er­bated the af­ford­able hous­ing cri­sis that has put a strain on those in lower in­come brack­ets.

Washington is one of seven states with­out a per­sonal in­come tax, and a state law passed in 1984 pro­hibits a county, city, or city-county from levy­ing a tax on net in­come.

The city es­ti­mates the tax will raise about $140 mil­lion a year.

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