Seattle's 'Amazon tax' comes to a vote


The tax, which has been unofficially nicknamed the "Amazon Tax", - named after the online retailer which is headquartered in Seattle - will affect businesses that generate annual revenue of $20 million or more, the Seattle Times reported.

The council voted 9-0 to require large Seattle businesses to pay $275 per employee in taxes for housing and homeless services.

Under the new law, companies bringing in more than $20 million in revenue a year would be required to pay $275 per employee every year.

Seattle and King County declared a state of emergency over homelessness in 2015, but since then, cost-of-living pressures have worsened.

Amazon's Herdener said the company will resume construction planning on the office tower it had paused.

After the Seattle City Council vote on Monday, the Transit Riders Union, which is affiliated with the Housing for All Coalition, said the new tax would begin alleviating the city's housing crisis.

Boeing, Costco Wholesalers and Microsoft, which are each among Seattle's largest employers, declined to comment on the matter.

Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant has repeatedly called Bezos a "bully" who attempted to extort the city by halting its construction plans.

The approval Monday brought a victory for Lisa Herbold and Lorena Gonzalez, the legislative architects on the plan, and, maybe, some time to finally rest after a weekend of negotiating.

"By threatening Seattle over this tax, Amazon is sending a message to all of our cities: we play by our own rules", the letter said.

"We could not find the votes we needed", a disappointed O'Brien said before voting for the smaller proposal. So the city is restricted in how it can raise revenue, and now relies on sales and property taxes as well as a business and occupancy tax.

Seattle is far from the only big city to have wrestled with increasing populations of homeless people, however, as housing costs have risen in recent years. A point-in-time count previous year tallied more than 11,600 homeless people in King County.

"Now we have to prove to the public that we're investing wisely and strategically, and I don't think we've convinced the public of that".

John Boufford with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades said he didn't understand rhetoric against Amazon, which he noted provides good jobs for thousands of people. "I'm confused about why the city of Seattle is fostering an adversarial relationship with businesses in this city". A count previous 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.