Seattle Poised to Repeal Tax On Amazon and Large Employers

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June 11, 2018 9:59 pm Published by

Under pressure from businesses and homeowners, the Seattle City Council is poised to repeal a tax on large employers like Amazon.com Inc. less than a month after it passed the tax unanimously.

The council said it will hold a vote Tuesday and signaled it would reverse its earlier move. The tax of $275 per employee — called a head tax — was expected to raise almost $50 million a year for homeless services and affordable housing, and the ensuing debate exposed a schism in the city over who’s responsible for the city’s swelling homeless population. Amazon and other major employers in the city had vocally opposed the tax, and the e-commerce giant, which is usually quiet about hometown politics, said it was pausing some development while the council considered the tax.

The council’s vote to tax the retailer was a rare instance of a city standing up to Amazon and demanding it fork over a portion of its wealth. But even after the council passed the tax, the debate persisted. Some Seattlites felt that the largest companies should shoulder some responsibility for the city’s rising home prices, but a growing number expressed skepticism that the city —and the council in particular— would be good shepherds of the new funding.