Published: Wed, May 16, 2018

Seattle approves 'head tax' on businesses to fight homelessness

Seattle approves 'head tax' on businesses to fight homelessness

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to impose a new tax on large employers to raise nearly $50 million in funding for affordable housing construction and homeless services. It sunsets in 2023. This has led to lack of affordable housing for the people especially students who are becoming homeless at an alarming rate and people are spending more than half their income on housing.

Herdener then turned the tables, suggesting the people holding the city's purse strings are the problem.

He said he was anxious about the effect the larger tax would have had on jobs in part because of concern over how the money would be spent. He believes that the city's new housing plan will be enough to tackle the Dallas homeless problem. That "head tax" is estimated to raise about $48 million - which authorities are marking for housing and homeless services.

There's no danger that anyone at Amazon is going to be charged with a felony (fortunately, socialist show trials are not the norm in Seattle yet) but it does tell us something about the mindset of the people backing this tax.

When the city council was considering a head tax past year, councilmembers were unable to agree on an employee-hours tax of 6.4 cents per employee per hour, which would have generated about $25 million annually.

The council passed the tax plan on Monday in response to a house price crisis resulting from an economic boom; supporters of the tax say that median house prices in Seattle are now $820,000, according to the BBC.


A larger tax had been proposed and passed at committee stage on Friday by a close vote to charge $500 per full-time worker each year to raise about $75 million. "Because this ordinance represents a true shared solution, and because it lifts up those who have been left behind while also ensuring accountability and transparency, I plan to sign this legislation into law", said Durkan.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) No head tax, no head tax.

"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".

ADOLPH: City Council member Kshama Sawant, who supports the head tax, spoke to them as they protested. "We will also continue to work towards a regional solution to homelessness because Seattle can not go it alone". It was previously $500 per employee, but that was expected to pass without a veto-proof majority, and Durkan was expected to veto it. A year ago 169 homeless people died in the city where winter temperatures can fall to minus 7 degrees. "We are highly uncertain whether the City Council's anti-business positions or its spending inefficiency will change for the better", Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener said in a statement on Monday.

As Dallas works to lure Amazon to North Texas for a second headquarters location, the company is unhappy with Seattle where its primary headquarters is located.

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