After intense lobbying by local businesses and a bold threat by Amazon to curtail development in its hometown, the Seattle City Council on Monday approved a smaller and more limited tax on big companies than originally envisioned.
Hederner, the Amazon vice president, said sharp increases in the city of Seattle's revenues have outpaced the population growth of the city during the same period. The tax will provide additional revenue.
The head tax approved on Monday is not the first. The council would have needed an additional councilmember to change their no vote to a yes in order to prevent a veto.
Councilmeber Lorena González came forward on May 14 with the amendment that reduced the tax to $275 per employee, which she said was in line with "political realities".
A statement from an exec at Amazon, which could end up forking over $10 million annually, says the company is "disappointed" in the vote, noting "we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the Council's hostile approach".
"We have to massively scale up the number of deeply affordable housing units that are available to those that are living and suffering here on the streets of Seattle", she said.
Seattle once had a $25-a-year per head tax, but killed it in 2009 because leaders said it sent the wrong message to businesses during the recession.
It also includes $2.3 million in revenue to go towards a five-year goal of picking up 950,000 pounds of garbage. "We are fighting everywhere, '" Sawant said.
"The city does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem", he said.
Amazon has driven Seattle's economy in recent years, drawing thousands of well-paid workers to the region. Almost 600 employers - about 3 percent of all Seattle businesses - would pay the tax starting in 2019.
The councilmember said Bezos becomes $275 million richer every day. There's no income or capital gains tax in Washington state, and Amazon paid no federal taxes on its income for past year. Amazon, the city's largest employer with 45,000 workers, would take the biggest hit.
Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks was also not pleased, pointing to an alleged spending problem by the city. If the Seattle City Council is serious about addressing these challenges, I hope we can count on their leadership on two critical issues: the HALA upzones, which address our outdated zoning, and aligning our fragmented homelessness services system. There were 11,600 homeless people living in the county previous year, according to The Seattle Times. In Denver, there is a $50-per-year tax for a full-time employee, while Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel scrapped the Windy City's tax after calling it a job killer.
The tax passed by a veto-proof unanimous vote. The law would affect about 3 percent of business in the city, according to the council. "Socialist Councilmember Sawant has convinced a majority to grab money it isn't legally allowed to take". But its most vocal critic may have been Amazon, which threatened to stop construction on new facilities in the city and put 7,000 jobs on hold over the tax proposal.