Seattle OKs tax on companies like Amazon to help homeless
16 May, 2018, 07:52 | Author: Sheri Evans
The tax plan applies to firms in the U.S. city who have an income of over $20 million and amounts to an extra 14 cents in tax per hour worked by each employee under the companies who are large enough to be eligible - around 500 in total.
The tax will raise roughly $47 million a year for affordable housing and emergency services such as shelter beds.
That's per a city councilwoman in Seattle, where local politicians hope a new tax on big business will alleviate homelessness.
That "head tax" formula is created to raise $45 million to $49 million a year over the five-year life of the tax - down from an original $75 million annually - to build more affordable housing and support services for the homeless. 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".
Indeed, state economic development secretary Jay Ash - whose office recently negotiated $20 million in street and Silver Line improvements to encourage Amazon's expansion in the Seaport - said he hasn't been following the contretemps across the continent. 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".
After weeks of negotiation between Seattle's city council and Mayor Jenny Durkan, the council voted unanimously this week to pass a so-called "head tax" on major businesses in Seattle to pay for homeless aid programs.
"We have community members who are dying", Council Member Teresa Mosqueda said before the 9-0 vote, the Times reports.
O'Brien, one of the original proposal's sponsors, said slashing the tax was the only practical way to move the measure forward.
That proposal, which has not yet garnered a veto-proof majority of support on the nine-member council, is a "head tax" on the city's highest grossing businesses.
Amazon released a statement saying the company would resume work on an office tower it had temporarily halted amid debate over what was originally a $500-per-head tax propopsal, but that it was disappointed by the council vote. This was a clear threat by Amazon to do substantial harm to the business and financial condition of the city of Seattle if public officials did not act as they demanded...
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While the idea that a company would simply abandon a multi-million-dollar investment halfway isn't really credible, changes to its scheduling, budget and usage plan would certainly affect local contractors - which is why numerous latter showed up to oppose the tax on Amazon's behalf.
Mayor Jenny Durkan said that Seattle now spends about $70 million in annual direct investments to programs that fight homelessness in her first State of the City address.
Schoesler says that despite proponents calling the head tax "progressive", it's actually regressive for the city's job creators. Seventy-five percent of the money would go toward building affordable housing, with most of the remaining funds aimed at helping the homeless.
Amazon now lists 5,551 job openings in Seattle. They question whether the city is effectively using the tens of millions of dollars it already spends on homelessness each year.
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