Sunday, December 6, 2009

News Flash, "a family of three needs at least thirty-six thousand to get by in Seattle"

Yesterday I wrote about the Washington State Legislature preparing for the "short" 60-day session in January. As the state makes cuts, and King County makes cuts, and the City of Seattle makes cuts, will the differences between those that "have", and those that "have not" become greater?

The answer has been "yes" for a couple decades, and it will grow. The reality is that these is a different standard of living, depending on where you live, as well as how you live.

In today's Seattle Times Columnist Danny Westneat provided us with the story of a woman who does not make enough money to live in Seattle, though she does live in Seattle.
It all started a year ago, when Porcaro, a 32-year-old mom with two boys, was summoned to the Seattle office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She had been flagged for an audit.

She couldn't believe it. She made $18,992 the previous year cutting hair at Supercuts. A few hundred of that she spent to have her taxes prepared by H&R Block.
. . .
"They thought she must have unreported income. That she was hiding something. Basically they were auditing her for not making enough money."

Seriously? An estimated 60,000 people in Seattle live below the poverty line — meaning they make $11,000 or less for an individual or $22,000 for a family of four. Does the IRS red-flag them for scrutiny, simply because they're poor?
. . .
Rachel's returns weren't all that complicated. At issue, though, was that she and her two sons, ages 10 and 8, were all living at her parents' house in Rainier Beach (she pays $400 a month rent). So the IRS concluded she wasn't providing for her children and therefore couldn't claim them as dependents.
Read the whole story in The Seattle Times, $10 an hour with 2 kids? IRS pounces.

60,000 people, 10%, of Seattle can not afford to live in Seattle.

I used a cost of living "wizard" at to compare living in Seattle on $18,992 in Seattle vs Richland (population 46,000 as of 2008)..
Employers pay 4.7% less in Richland, but the cost of living is 19.4% lower.

So, let's understand something here before the Washington State Legislature gets together, know that there are more "poor" people in Seattle than there are people in Richland. That the cost of living is lower, and your personal wealth is worth more in smaller cities, like Richland. When legislators representing Seattle, and King County, propose bills to allow their municipalities to have access to broader taxes, tourist taxes, untility taxes, stadium taxes, whatever, to get more return for the communities they have invested in, understand why.

Seattle is a nice place to visit, and some of us live here.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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