Seattle sales tax revenue fell $ 46 million last year; biggest drop in Washington | Washington
(The Center Square) – The city of Seattle saw the biggest drop in tax revenue last year among Washington municipalities, according to a new report from the Washington State Auditor’s Office.
Seattle sales tax collection decreased by more than $ 46 million from the previous year, from $ 348.5 million to $ 302 million; a decrease of 13.3%.
Overall Washington sales tax collection fell 4.5% last year, down $ 76.7 million. Seattle accounted for more than half of this drop.
The auditor’s office reported that “167 of 272 cities (that’s over 60%) saw an increase in their sales tax collections compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 period.”
âWe believe that each city has its own story that explains the increase or decrease,â the report says. “We shouldn’t assume that just one factor is responsible for the changes.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office has not commented on the city’s sales tax cut despite several requests.
Like most of Washington, Seattle experienced closures last year. There were also ongoing protests so pronounced that many protesters took control of an area of ââCapitol Hill and called it a âself-governing zone,â which excluded law enforcement and most businesses.
James Sido, director of issue management at the Downtown Seattle Association, pointed to additional issues that have led to lower collections.
âThe restrictions on in-person events and the absence of office workers were huge drivers of the sales tax cut for Seattle,â Sido said.
While consumer spending in the state wasn’t all bad news, it was mostly bad news for Seattle.
âWhile consumer spending has increased for some sectors in 2020, some of those that have been hit the hardest are concentrated regionally in Seattle, and you could say downtown Seattle specifically for some,â said Sido. âThese were restaurants, hotels, health care and recreation (arts, culture, tourism, sports, etc.). Each of these typically generates a lot of local sales taxes – and has additional multiplier effects – and most have been either closed or extremely limited for the whole of 2020. â
Sido predicted an improvement in sales tax collections for this year.
âAs we have seen an increase in the number of visitors and pedestrians in 2021, especially during the summer months in the city center, these numbers are expected to be higher,â he said.