10/14/2019

Amazon won a major battle in Seattle, but a Big Tech ‘head tax’ could still happen for Apple and Google

Amazon is the largest property taxpayer and private employer in Seattle. Since 2000, the metro area has added nearly 100,000 new jobs, leading to an influx of high-skilled workers and a thriving tech industry.

But some residents and local officials believe Amazon’s growth has been the catalyst for several problems, including affordable housing and homelessness crises, since its arrival in the late 1990s. To ease those issues, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a “head tax” in May requiring large businesses to pay $275 per employee for the next five years. The money would go toward affordable housing and homelessness projects.

The city received pushback from Amazon, which at one point threatened to halt construction of a 405,000-square-foot office tower. Following the tax’s passage, Amazon, Starbucks, and other large companies also quietly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a signature-gathering campaign, called No Tax on Jobs, for a referendum against the tax on November’s ballot.

Fearing this and more pushback from Amazon, the city repealed the tax.

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