Folks, it has been brought to my attention that I am an overt racist. Folks who were silent - or even defended - a certain candidate's use of a racial slur have determined that supporting a tax on speculation is inherently "anti-Asian." The idea being that levying a tax to deter and discourage billionaire investment in properties for the sole purpose of flipping them for massive profit - leaving these properties underdeveloped and exacerbating our affordability crisis - is a bad thing because some (or most - who knows, government officials apparently won't share that data) comes from billionaires (and millionaires, I suppose) who are Chinese nationals that live in China.
Forgive me for admitting I have a hard time wrapping my head around this logic. The affordability crisis is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color in Seattle, with effects that ripple across King County. In particular, low-income communities who have been historically economically depressed thanks to institutional racism, exacerbated by the passage of I-200. But somehow, even talking about exploring ideas to discourage speculation in real estate - a part of the overall problem - is racist because the very rich from other countries that live in other countries are some of the people engaged in speculation in the real estate market (along with rich folks in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle). It's just amazing to me to see folks putting the profits of the very rich ahead of the housing needs of communities in Seattle.
The funny thing is, a lot of the folks I see objecting to even discussing this idea are the same folks who thought a capital gains tax on property transfers where the profit is a certain amount was a good idea back in 2015. I know because that was my idea, and a lot of folks now implying I'm racist were supporters of my campaign.
And the fact is that I noted non-resident speculators - whether the guy from the Bay Area who owns a parcel in Roosevelt, waiting for Light Rail to open so he can sell it for a massive profit, or foreign investors involved in buying and selling Columbia Tower - as the reason it was a good idea. Like REET on steroids, taxing profits on these properties in excess of, say, $250,000 at 15% could raise money to produce safer streets, more affordable housing, and improve parks and open space.
Frankly, there is a reason looking at taxation on parcels in this way makes more sense. There are folks who argue in favor of a Land Value Tax (LVT), which, as I understand, would tax properties on what they could be, not just what they are. The idea being that folks holding onto properties that are zoned for more housing would have an incentive to sell due to being taxed as if their home was really a small apartment building. I am opposed to this type of taxation. If someone wants to retire in their home and age in place, I believe they should have every right to do so. Literally increasing taxes to encourage resident homeowners to sell is just not a policy I can get behind.
But a speculation tax - particularly in the form of a Capital Gains tax - makes so much more sense. When we are talking about people holding properties for the purpose of making money by doing nothing, it's a point where revenue becomes a wealth shift. It's much more progressive to tax unearned wealth, after all, than increasing taxes on folks with fixed or limited incomes (as ever-increasing property taxes ostensibly does).
So then the question turns to who gets hit by such a tax. Who cares. Whether the wealth hoarding is someone in New York, a corporation based on London, or a group of investors based out of Hong Kong, intentionally holding properties to drive up the property value and resale value, increasing the cost of housing overall in a market, all for profit because profit is more important than providing adequate housing for all residents is objectively wrong. At least, it should be.
It is unfortunate that we are seeing liberals stooping to a level that placing profiteers ahead of Seattle taxpayers is the new "in" thing. And even worse - rejecting having a meaningful conversation about revenue reform that targets revenue sources at millionaire and billionaire investors rather than regressive taxes...it really (almost) puts me at a loss for words.