Puget Sound Business Journal
By Ashley Stewart
August 23, 2017
Seattle will pay a team of lawyers from Pacifica Law Group as much as $250,000 to help defend the city’s new income tax on high-earners against legal challenges, according to a contract obtained by the Business Journal.
The team will assist the city attorney’s office in defending the new tax. A spokeswoman for the office said it’s still unclear how much in-house time and resources the city will have to devote to the legal fight, depending on how many levels of court the lawsuits go through. Many expect the legal challenges to make it to the state Supreme Court.
The Seattle City Council passed the ordinance July 10 to enact a 2.25 percent tax starting Jan. 1, 2018 on every dollar a Seattle resident earns above $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for couples who file joint tax returns.
Three lawsuits have been filed to challenge the new tax, which attorneys on both sides expect will be consolidated into one case.
Seattle will pay the outside counsel hourly billing rates, according to the contract, which is specific to the first lawsuit filed by investment manager Michael Kunath:
- $495 for Pacifica senior litigation partner Paul Lawrence
- $285 for Pacifica partner Greg Wong
- $265 for Pacifica partner Jamie LisagorIt’s unclear exactly how much the city will pay related to the ordinance. The cost to hire Pacifica Law Group is just one piece. Seattle has also paid for consultants to conduct legal research, including establishing the legal pathways for the ordinance.