'Tax Amazon': Seattle passes plan for corporate wealth tax to fund housing


In a compromise reached in the Seattle City Council on Monday, approval was given for a yearly "head tax" charge of $275 (€230) for each full-time worker at the city's major companies.

The levy, which would apply to businesses that gross at least $20 million a year, would finance affordable housing and homeless services in a city with the third-largest homeless population in the U.S. Amazon's growth is viewed as a factor in the area's skyrocketing housing costs.

The tax also would hit such Seattle-based stalwarts as coffee retailer Starbucks and department store chain Nordstrom, as well as California-based tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook that have enough of a presence in Seattle that they would be subject to the new levy.

To view the full article, register now. But she said she was proud the plan for a new tax had "evolved more towards progressivity" and would do things like protect the city's small businesses. "The city does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem".

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"This was never a proposal targeting one company, but Amazon made the conversation about them when they expressed their intentions to pause construction on their new office tower pending a vote on our Progressive Tax on Business.

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. After rejecting the alternative, council members at a committee meeting voted 5-4 to put the tax on the full council agenda scheduled for later in the day. The number of homeless students in the city's public schools has tripled, to almost 4,300 last school year. While we have resumed construction planning for Block 18, we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council's hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here.

Almost 600 employers with gross revenues of more than $20 million - including Starbucks and Amazon - will be expected to pay the charge in Seattle from next year onwards.

Other cities have implemented similar taxes, but critics say Seattle's tax could threaten the booming local economy and drive away jobs.

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The move by Amazon to create HQ2 - a second headquarters elsewhere - has stoked fears that Seattle's liberal politics will turn off the company.

For her part, Durkan said the limited tax would "address our homelessness crisis without jeopardizing critical jobs". Past year the city spent $68 million on homeless services.

"As a union rep, we meet with our employers to discuss our problems and come up with solutions jointly", Bufford said.

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