Well, that lasted long.
Barely a month has passed since Seattle voted unanimously to pass the head tax on businesses like Amazon and Starbucks, and the City Council is already considering plans to repeal it amidst a massive public outcry, according to The Seattle Times.
The controversial “head tax,” spearheaded by the socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant, added a tax of $275 per employee per year on businesses that grossed in excess of $20 million a year. The tax would add a $20 million dollar annual tax burden to Amazon, which would net Seattle a cool $47 million from the targeted business. The funds are (ostensibly) meant to help address the city’s ongoing homelessness problem.
Though the City Council passed the head tax by a vote of 9-0, business leaders and concerned citizens rallied to force the government into repealing the measure.
“A business-backed campaign called No Tax on Jobs had planned to submit petition signatures on Tuesday to qualify a referendum on the head-tax for the November ballot, having raised more than $200,000 and attracted a small army of volunteers,” reports the Seattle Times.
City Council President Bruce Harrell said he hears only a maelstrom of negative feedback from citizens wherever he goes.
“The people I talk to, whether it’s at the grocery store or coffee shop or basketball game, people do not seem convinced the employee-hours tax strategy is the right solution,” Harrell said in an interview at City Hall. “I think we have to listen.”
Of course, progressives loved the measure. The openly socialist Kshama Sawant even said she eventually wants to tax Amazon four times more than the current rate.
On Monday, Bruce Harrell announced that the Council will now be moving to kill the head tax as soon as possible. He has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday night to discuss the repeal legislation, which appears to have enough votes.
“He and six others on the council joined Mayor Jenny Durkan in a statement Monday signaling their support for nixing the $275 per employee, per year tax, which was supposed to raise about $47 million per year starting in 2019 to fund low-income housing and homeless services,” reports The Seattle Times.
The decision to repeal happened quickly and without warning, according to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who learned of the plan only on Sunday.
“I was at the beach minding my own business and I got a call from the mayor’s office letting me know that she already had heard from a number of my council colleagues that this was going to be on the agenda,” Bagshaw said in an interview Monday.
Only Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Kshama Sawant stood by the tax Monday.
“We have people who are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity, and our neighbors and friends worry about being able to afford to live in the city while we have a booming economy,” Mosqueda said in a statement.
On Twitter, Sawant described the reversal as a “backroom betrayal.”
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Marilyn Strickland called the repeal plan “the breath of fresh air Seattle needs.”