School officials are receiving full salaries while schools are closed; they should also provide temporary property tax relief to hard-pressed families

Mar 26, 2020

The coronavirus is causing disruption and concern to families in Seattle and across the country.  Parents in particular are worried about the safety of both grandparents and children.  Officials have closed schools until at least April 24th, and perhaps longer.  In addition, Seattle officials have shut down the after-school and preschool programs funded by the Families and Education Levy.  All nonessential businesses in the city are closed and unemployment is soaring.  Not only are parents worried about the education of their children, now many working families are losing income and facing mounting bills and tax obligations.  The first half of the 2020 property tax burden is due on April 30th, which is many thousands of dollars for most families and small business owners.  Low-income, single-parent and working families are suffering the most.

At a time when neighbors are pulling together in crisis, there is something Seattle school and other local officials can do to help -- provide property tax relief.  In Seattle, for example, a family with a median-value home is paying $550 to the school district and another $270 to Families and Education programs, plus a further $1,100 in other special levies.

In this time of pressing need, Seattle school and city officials can provide sorely needed tax relief to hard-pressed families.  At a minimum they can delay tax collection for 90 days, as the Trump Administration has done, or they can defer indefinitely some or all of the half-year tax burden that people face.  After all, while schools are closed public officials are receiving their full salaries and benefits; they face no financial pressure at all in the present crisis.  They could at least care enough about the rest of us to help reduce the financial burden of the working families who are paying their salaries.