Seattle may now kill the 'Amazon tax' it just passed

Seattle may now kill the 'Amazon tax' it just passed

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signaled this week that her administration was seeking a "repeal" of the so-called "homeless tax" over mounting public pressure and a major pushback from local businesses.

Seattle city leaders said, Monday, they'll work to repeal a tax passed just last month on businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks created to help pay for homeless services and affordable housing.

Amazon balked, and Seattle is backing down.

But late Monday, Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Council President Bruce Harrell, who decided on the reversal over the weekend, issued statements signaling the reversal and repeal of the "head tax" that the Seattle City Council approved 9-0 last month.

A regional panel on homelessness includes business representatives, called One Table, has so far failed to come up with an alternative funding plan.

The online retail giant had threatened to halt construction on new buildings in Seattle, but later backtracked and resumed work.

"Quite frankly, it's atrocious what's happening around the city", said Erika Nagy, who is part of the "No Tax On Jobs" campaign. Specifically, they were getting exhausted of all the taxes. Many who went to the microphone attacked the courage of the council members' convictions to help the homeless and promised to vote the officials out at the next opportunity.

While the creation and ultimate passage of the head tax was a crawling slog of Seattle politics with a dozen or so public meetings and hearings, Tuesday's repeal vote will take place without even public comment.

Adding drama Tuesday, a gong was repeatedly rung during the pre-vote rally - as Tim Harris, founder of Real Change, explained - 6,320 times, for all the people tallied as unsheltered on King County streets on a January night this year.

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The company recently said it would block Australians from purchases on its worldwide websites after the nation planned to impose a 10 percent consumption tax on online retailers for goods shipped to Australia.

The tax debate comes as 20 cities vie to lure the company's second headquarters and as it expands its workforce in Boston and Vancouver, British Columbia. "If you're smart, you certainly wouldn't offer incentives to a company that's going to squeeze you".

Along with West Seattle's Lisa Herbold, Mosqueda faced down public saber rattling from Amazon and architected the employee tax that passed in a compromise form in mid-May to implement a $275 per full-time employee tax on companies reporting $20 million or greater in annual "taxable gross receipts" beginning in 2019.

The liberal city spent $68 million on homelessness in 2017 and plans to spend $78 million this year. "We heard you. This week, the City Council is moving forward with the consideration of legislation to repeal the current tax on large businesses to address the homelessness crisis".

Amazon and some of the city's other largest employers, including Starbucks, quickly raised $200,000 to gather signatures for a referendum that would challenge the council's decision.

"We know that there are strong passions and genuine policy differences between neighbors, businesses, community leaders, and people across our City on how to best address our housing and homelessness crisis", Durkan said.

"We can not wait months or until next year for another proposal or process while people are sleeping in our parks and on our streets", she said in a statement.

She and councilmember Kshama Sawant were the only two who voted against the repeal.



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