Seattle City Council passes $275 employee tax

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Unlike the previous proposal, the final tax plan does not require the head tax to transition to a payroll tax.

The conflict is growing at an interesting time for Amazon, with the company now moving full speed ahead with its plans to start building its second headquarters as early as next year. "Technically", comments Bryan Menegus in Gizmodo, the tax is "calculated by multiplying working hours by about 26 cents for full-time employees (defined as 480 or more hours per quarter) at Seattle businesses generating over $20 million in revenue per year". Sponsors of the tax said Seattle's biggest-earning businesses should bear some burden for easing a shortage in low-priced housing that they helped create by driving up real estate prices to the point where the working poor and many middle-class families can no longer afford to live in the city.

"If they can not provide a warm meal and safe bed to a 5-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction", said Kelly.

The council reached the decision after a weekend of haggling between council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan, who threatened to veto the originally proposed $500 tax per employee. The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the US and saw 169 homeless deaths previous year.

Being the third region in the US with the highest number of homeless people, the city has been driving reforms to tackle the problem, as at least 169 homeless people died on Seattle's streets in 2017.

"Over $200 million in tax dollars were spent on homelessness in King County past year", he added. Companies argue that the measure is a tax on jobs and will stunt a booming local economy.

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The Seattle City Council has unanimously voted to tax jobs to help fund measures to address homelessness. Amazon, with 45,000 workers, would take the biggest hit.

Amazon vice president and spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement that the tax's passage "forces us to question our growth" in Seattle, where Amazon is planning a new 17-story office tower. Starbucks accuses the city council of continuous spending and failing with no accountability.

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez responded that she was "equally disappointed" with Amazon's reaction to the council's vote and said she thinks "their tone in this message that is clearly hostile toward the city council is not what I expect from a business who continues to tell us that they want to be a partner on these issues".

Shannon Brown, 55, who has been living a tiny home at a south Seattle homeless encampment, said there's simply not enough housing for the city's poorest people. "There's no away I can afford to live in Seattle". Denver has enacted a similar tax, and Chicago had one but repealed it. Seattle itself had a head tax in effect from 2006 to 2009 but it was repealed to help businesses in the midst of the recession.

John Boufford with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades said he did not understand the rhetoric against Amazon, which he noted provides good jobs for thousands of people. They tend to say what they're going to do and then do it. That approach makes sense only if the businesses that have made Seattle a thriving city are nailed to the ground.

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