What Seattle 'head tax' will cost Amazon

Dick's Drive In was established in Seattle in 1954

On Monday, the council voted unanimously to levy a "head tax" of $275 on every full-time employee at a company with more than $20 million a year in revenue.

The Seattle city council approved a new "head tax" to its largest businesses, such as Amazon and Starbucks, to help fund homeless emergency services and affordable housing, and companies are not happy about it. Does she not realize that the giant, job-providing company could pack up and leave Seattle? That's lower than when it was first proposed at $500 per employee, but it is not quite as low as the $250-per-employee compromise that was voted down on Friday.

An open letter May 14 to the city of Seattle from about 55 elected leaders-some from cities on Amazon's short list for HQ2-rebuked Amazon for its tactics and its opposition to the tax proposal.

"If they can not provide a warm meal and safe bed to a 5-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction", said Kelly.

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Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a bill sponsor, said the revenue will not be enough to fully address the problem given the city's needs but said it was "the strongest proposal" possible given the veto threat. However the problem has only deteriorated with the number of homeless students attending public schools in the city tripling to close to 4,300 in the last school year. The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the US and saw 169 homeless deaths a year ago. Thanks to politicians' sympathetic ear when it comes to the plight of the rich, Amazon will pocket an estimated $789 million this year, easily offsetting the $10 million it'll pay Seattle to improve the city it calls home.

"We must make urgent progress on our affordability and homelessness crisis", Durkan said in a statement Wednesday.

Amazon's tactics and its reluctance to pay the tax have attracted the attention of local elected officials around the nation, including cities short-listed by the company as possible sites for its second, co-equal headquarters city, dubbed HQ2. Other cities have implemented similar taxes, but Seattle's is by far the highest in the nation. Amazon with total employee strength of 45,000 would be affected the most.

The company expressed disappointment with the outcome.

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"Seattle just told the world that if you bring jobs to Seattle, the tax and spenders in the city will tax them", Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist said in a statement.

"The city does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem", Herdener said. As such, many homeless individuals are bounced from place to place, or forced to live on the street while seeking affordable housing within the city.

"I have no qualms putting the Seattle City Council in a hard box", Mullet said.

John Boufford with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades said he did not understand the rhetoric against Amazon, which he noted provides good jobs for thousands of people. They tend to say what they're going to do and then do it. "I'm confused about why the city of Seattle is fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses in this city".

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