Seattle Passes Tax on Big Business to Fight Homelessness

Seattle Passes Tax on Big Business to Fight Homelessness

The tax, on companies with more than $20 million in receipts, will amount to about $275 per employee and is intended for use in improving conditions for the city's homeless.

The hotly debated measure was a compromise after a city-appointed task force recommended a levy raising $75 million a year instead. Tech giant Amazon said it would pause construction on a 17-story skyscraper pending the city council's vote, which prompted construction workers to rally against the head tax.

Starbucks had also fought against the tax, with its public affairs chief, John Kelly, accusing the city of continuing to "spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside". Especially as more companies look elsewhere for talent, cities need to remember that building an attractive place for businesses is a marathon, not a sprint. Schoesler told KOMO News on Monday night.

Earlier this month Amazon put two large construction projects in the city on hold until the tax decision had been made.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin doesn't appreciate the efforts of state legislatures in New York, New Jersey, and CT that have established municipality charitable funds that could accept contributions from taxpayers in exchange for tax credits.

Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a socialist, said affordable housing is critically important and the council should "stand up to Amazon and Jeff Bezos' bullying". But even if the tax passes tomorrow and Seattle doesn't leave town, it's possible that other companies will. "If we had a weaker movement, we could have won less or even nothing".

"I absolutely find it unacceptable to see politically threatening behavior as is occurring there", said Robin Kniech, a member of the City Council in Denver, one of the finalists for Amazon's second headquarters. The two office spaces would accommodate about 7,000 new Amazon jobs.

Head tax supporters marched on Amazon Saturday, led by Sawant and the Affordable Housing Alliance.

Durkan on Friday said she didn't support the original proposal because it would cost jobs. "We have a lot more work to do".

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A council committee could vote this week and the full council may take it up Monday.

The mayor, councilmembers and city staff spent the weekend working on a compromise that everyone could agree on.

"The city does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem".

González said she had hoped to be voting "on a different package" with more money, but "I'm glad to be able to finally move this forward".

City Hall is also jeopardizing Seattle's chances of remaining a mecca for employers developing next-generation technologies.

From next year any firm earning more than $20million per year will be asked to pay up with Amazon - which employs 45,000 people - shouldering the largest burden. A new report concluded that it would require about $400 million a year, conservatively, to solve the homelessness crisis in King County.

"This is the richest city in the state and in a state that has the most regressive tax system in the country", said council member Teresa Mosqueda, who supported a larger tax but called the plan "a down payment" to build housing the city needs.

The council approved the tax which is expected to raise about $48 million (€40 million) annually to pay for affordable housing and services for homeless people.

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