As our friend Hugh Hewitt wonders, it’s tough to see why anyone does business in Seattle these days. Fresh off its imposition of a “head tax” on its most successful businesses, the city council has now begun an effort to raise the limit on property taxes on both businesses and homes, not long after the state of Washington already hiked their levies. The city wants to expand free preschool programs and offer free community college, but it will be anything but free to property owners and businesses:
People who own a home in King County are paying about 17% more in property taxes this year than last year to help pay for the state’s funding of public education.
But come November, Seattle leaders will be asking voters to approve a bit more of an increase for city dwellers.
City Council members say while the state funding property tax hike pays for basic education, the levy they want to be renewed will be an extra investment to ensure that kids from preschool to high school will have what it takes to succeed.
But don’t call it a tax hike, says one council member. It’s an enhancement!
In 2014, Seattle voters approved a $58 million levy allowing low-income kids to go to preschool for free. …
“So it’s just an enhancement of the property tax that people are currently paying and have been since 2011,” Gonzalez said.
The mayor’s office projects that it will cost Seattle homeowners an extra $5 a week, but that adds up — and it’s not the only tax enhancement they’ve faced over the last few years. Businesses will undoubtedly get hit harder, either on property they own directly or by increased lease costs from landlords. The Amazons of Seattle will likely be able to absorb it by passing costs on to their customers, as will the wealthier residents of the city so enamored of the idea of offering “free” services funded by others.
It’s the middle class that will get hammered with these tax hikes, and they’re already getting pummeled with all the tax hikes that came before it, as one resident explained:
“It’s not just homelessness. It’s the bike lanes and budget overruns, the Bertha tunnel, and the overruns on that, the First Ave streetcar and overruns on that,” Seattle resident Matt Dubin said. Dubin is a local attorney now running to become a state lawmaker this year. He says he is upset over city leaders squeezing out the middle class. “It’s making it impossible for the middle class to live in Seattle. If we keep going down this road nobody will be able to live in Seattle except for the very rich and the homeless,” Dubin said.
And it might not even stop there. The “very rich” have other options too, and they’ll eventually exercise them. That will leave the few middle-class residents and business owners remaining holding the bag. Better to get out now than get stuck with that bill. Or, better yet, elect city council members with a lick of economic sense and operational competency.