Amazon Resumes Seattle Construction After Head Tax Vote

by Frankie Norman May 16, 2018, 7:58
Amazon Resumes Seattle Construction After Head Tax Vote

"How is that a compromise?"

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Thursday offered an alternate plan, cutting the tax in half from $500 to $250 per employee per year. The tax will amount to $275 a year per full-time employee in Seattle.

It would only impact businesses with over $20 million a year in gross revenue.

Head taxes are extremely rare in the USA and the ones in place are a fraction of Seattle's proposal.

Durkan said in a news conference Monday she planned to sign the bill.

Herdener noted that the company, which has embarked on numerous efforts to help alleviate the homeless problem, has resumed its construction on a new 17-floor office tower, which it had paused ahead of the vote. "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. A Starbucks exec criticized the city for spending "without reforming and fail [ing] without accountability."A number of top Tesla executives have left the company in the past few months". However, it still does not support the compromise.

"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.

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.

However: If, as seems more likely as of Friday afternoon, the vote remains 5-4, the question becomes what will happen in the 30 days after Durkan vetoes it.

A spokesperson for Mayor Durkan, meanwhile, said in a statement that the mayor "has been working around the clock with Councilmembers, businesses and workers to forge a path forward that protects our economy and family-wage jobs, while making meaningful investments in affordable housing and homelessness services". The tax will now generate $47 million a year, and it will run for five years, rather than turning into a payroll tax after a two-year run.

"People are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity", Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said in the meeting. With more than 40,000 employees and counting, Amazon is at the center of the conversation and the explicit target of Sawant, who has called the proposal "Tax Amazon Legislation". (An attempt to tax the rich in Seattle was struck down by a King County Superior Court judge a year ago.) As such, the state has the most regressive tax system in the country, with low-income residents paying a larger share of their income than wealthier residents. Sawant did not deny it and said she believes it is OK to use taxpayer-funded equipment for her "movement".

A spending plan for how the money will be allocated is still being considered, according to The Seattle Times. "We're trying to get away from legacy contracts".

Since 1986, Seattle voters have agreed five separate times to tax themselves to pay for affordable housing.

Median rents have doubled since 2010, according to real estate firm Zillow, and the area has the third highest homeless population in the nation, according to US government statistics. United Way of King County spent around $6.5 million in 2017.


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