The Yakima City Council might put a local income tax ban to voters.
Mayor Patricia Byers asked council members to consider putting an income tax ban on the November ballot through a charter change, and the council agreed to discuss it further Aug. 2.
Byers also made the suggestion in February 2020, but the council didn’t move forward with it.
“The Legislature and the courts have reopened the door for income tax now into cities, as well as into the state,” Byers said Tuesday. “I feel that it’s important to let the voters of Yakima express their desire to be open or not open to an income tax in our city.”
Battle Ground, Spokane, Granger and Spokane Valley have all banned local income taxes on businesses and individuals. Tax critics have pointed to a new state capital gains tax as a concern. The tax institutes a 7% capital gains tax on Washington long-term capital gains of more than $250,000.
In 2020, the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce opposed a local personal income tax, saying the tax would hurt the city and state’s competitive advantage in recruiting and keeping businesses and professional talent. At the time, chamber CEO Verlynn Best said voter reactions to proposed tax levy increases — including a proposed levy lid lift that failed in February 2020 with about 64% voting no — showed they likely would support a ban.
Tuesday’s motion for more discussion passed 5-2 with council members Kay Funk and Eliana Macias voting no. Funk said she did not see any point discussing the resolution at the next meeting.
“It’s not at all realistic in this community and I don’t think it needs to be discussed,” Funk said.
Council member Jason White expressed interest in the tax ban.
“I don’t think anybody would support an income tax,” he said. “(Discussing) it makes a statement that we’re not going to do it. We’re going to work on not allowing that.”
Community members can comment in person or by phone at the Aug. 2 council meeting, or send an email to www.yakimawa.gov/council/contact/.