GeekWire: Redfin CEO breaks with tech community on Seattle head tax
GeekWire: Redfin CEO breaks with tech community on Seattle head tax
Amazon Pushes Back Against The Proposed Seattle Head Tax
17 May, 2018, 02:46
The money will raise almost $50 million to help the city address its affordability and homeless problem. The tax would end after five years unless renewed by the city.
Amazon vice president Drew Herdenersaid, "We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council's hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here".
Many divergent interests joined together to oppose the head tax, from local activists to unionized ironworkers who lost work when Amazon paused construction on a Seattle facility while waiting for the outcome of the vote. "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".
The debate over who should pay to solve a city housing crisis exacerbated by Seattle's rapid economic growth comes after weeks of tense exchanges, raucous meetings and a threat by Amazon, the city's largest employer, to stop construction planning on a 17-story building near its hometown headquarters.
Amazon is not alone in its stance; Zillow, Starbucks and 131 businesses including Redbox, SmartLabs and Expedia all have expressed their concern and disappointment over the council's decision to penalize the city's job creators.
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.
"We are trying to make sure that we both hear from the social workers, those who are experiencing homelessness, the housing advocates and experts...what we need most is the creation of housing units, and right now we don't have the funding to do that".
"I am quite confident that as we move forward, we can continue to have the best city anywhere for people to do business", Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a press conference. Publicly traded companies are not required to break out their total employees or revenue per city.
He said Seattle "does not have a revenue problem it has a spending efficiency problem".
The tax has been dubbed the "Amazon Tax" by locals.
Gee added that the tax will especially harm grocery stores because they have high gross sales, are labor intensive and make the lowest profit out of any industry, at one and one-half percent. 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.
"...do not capitulate to Bezos' bullying...we need $400 million a year to solve this problem, don't water this down". The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the USA and saw 169 homeless deaths past year.
Matt Dubin, attorney and candidate for State Representative in the 36 district, said the tax proposal will do little to solve the homelessness problem but would further divide the community.
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