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Senator Schoesler releases proposed legislation banning head taxes in Washington

Senator Mark Schoesler has put forth a proposed bill that would ban employee hours taxes, or “head taxes,” like the one currently up for debate in the Seattle City Council. Senator Schoesler says he plans to sponsor this legislation during the 2019 legislative session.

The bill request seeks to add the following new section to the revised code of Washington:

“A city or town may not impose a tax measured by employee wages, employee hours, or the number of employment positions, which is initially enacted on or after January 1, 2018.”

Sen. Schoesler recently wrote an op-ed in the Puget Sound Business Journal where he argued that the Seattle City Council does not currently have the authority to impose the head tax.

“The council doesn’t even have the explicit authority to impose all the taxes it wants,” wrote Schoesler. “That’s right — cities have no inherent authority to levy local taxes unless it’s expressly delegated by the Legislature or Washington’s Constitution.”

“Clearly, local politicians need reminding that under the state constitution, taxing authority must be granted by the state to local government.”

By explicitly prohibiting local governments from imposing these taxes, Schoesler says this legislation will remove all doubts about local politicians’ authority to push these kinds of policies forward.

The Seattle City Council is holding a special meeting on their head tax Wednesday morning at 9:00 am which you can watch live here. Originally, the head tax was scheduled for a committee vote Wednesday and a full council vote on May 14. However, the committee vote has been postponed until Friday, and the full council vote may be delayed until May 18.