Seattle Council to vote Monday on controversial head tax


Under the amendment, the tax expires after five years with the option to renew it. Kshama Sawant was the only councilmember to vote against the amendment, but voted in support of the final tax after the smaller version was approved by her colleagues.

The company, which employs more than 45,000 in Seattle, would be looking at an annual tab of up to $30 million and possibly more should the tax take effect as proposed, starting in 2019.

The move by Amazon to create HQ2 - a second headquarters elsewhere - has stoked fears that Seattle's liberal politics will turn off the company. Homeless advocates and socialists have said it's not almost enough, often chanting during city council meetings and jeering at lawmakers who opposed the proposal.

Despite letters from hundreds of business leaders opposing the tax, in an initial vote Friday the nine-member panel passed the $500-per-employee tax.

More than 100 people participated in the "March on Amazon" protest which began at Seattle Central College before heading over to Amazon headquarters in South Lake Union, according to KOMO News.

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The city council backed a compromise plan that will charge large businesses about 275 United States dollars per full-time worker each year less than the 500 USA dollars per worker initially proposed. After that, it would have risen to an estimated $39 million a year. Sawant was the only councilmember to vote against cutting the per-employee cost from $500 to $275 at Monday's meeting. "This is the richest city in the state and in a state that has the most regressive tax system in the country". Then you know where to spend new tax revenues.

Other unions, including the Service Employees International Union, supported the tax.

Some opponents of the measure called for greater accountability on how funds addressing homelessness are spent.

While criticized for being slow to contribute, Amazon in recent years donated two buildings on its campus to house the homeless.

"The spending keeps going up and we're not seeing results". A count past year found King County's homeless population to have reached more than 11,000, and a pro bono report issued last week by McKinsey & Co. for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce found that it would cost about $400 million to address the shortage of affordable housing in the area. A year ago 169 homeless people died in the city where winter temperatures can fall to minus 7 degrees. This revenue increase far outpaces the Seattle population increase over the same time period.

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The local government is expected to raise $75 million dollars from the tax, with Amazon, the city's largest employer, expected to fork over at least $20 million of the total sum. By 2021, the head tax would convert to a 0.7% payroll tax. The company made about 80 times that, $1.6 billion, in net first-quarter profits.

Council members were working on the deal past midnight Sunday, they said.

He said he was anxious about the effect the larger tax would have had on jobs in part because of concern over how the money would be spent.

The plan, which could change because the council has yet to vote on it, proposes spending about 66 percent of new revenue on affordable housing, equalling about 591 new affordable housing units between this year and 2023.

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