Economy

Seattle passes a smaller version of the 'Amazon tax'

Seattle passes a smaller version of the 'Amazon tax'

Businesses and others who say the tax is misguided and potentially harmful question whether the city is effectively using the tens of millions of dollars it already spends on homelessness each year. Amazon on Monday declined further comment.

The Seattle City Council passed a new tax on big businesses Monday to help address the city's growing homelessness problem, agreeing to a lower rate than initially proposed after complaints from Amazon.com and other city firms.

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.

On Monday, about 40 elected officials from across the United States, some representing local governments in the running to host Amazon's second headquarters, published an open letter to Seattle in support of the head tax and expressing concern that Amazon opposed the measure. On Friday, Harrell introduced a proposal identical to the Durkan plan, along with a spending plan that emphasizes shelter over permanent housing and would pay for just 250 new rental units over five years.

Amazon, the city's largest employer, said after the vote that it would go ahead with planning for a major downtown office building that it earlier had put on hold over its objections to a much stiffer tax plan originally proposed.

"It seems only fair that as so many struggle to make their way through a tax system that's rigged in favor of large corporations, that we ask those same corporations to financially contribute to the public health and housing solutions created to address those consequences", they wrote.

Seattle City Council is now in an ambiguous position, which is stuck between the capitalist realities and socialist dreams owned by Seattle. Amazon's plans in Seattle after today's vote are not clear.

John Bufford, 47, of Tacoma, an elected union representative for International Union Painters and Allied Trades, said some members of the council seemed to be more interested in personally targeting Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos rather than addressing the problem.

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Lorena González, one of the four-cosponsors of the new proposal, told reporters after the briefing, "We feel like we've made a lot of good faith efforts to find a taxation rate that will bring our colleagues and the mayor along, and we hope this is enough to get the support of all our colleagues".

The city's homeless population is growing, behind only NY and Los Angeles. A recent audit of King County's response to the crisis gives weight to that view.

However, he has a point that needs serious consideration as the city is getting obsessed with the taxing issues than giving proper shelter to the homeless people.

It would only impact businesses with over $20 million a year in gross revenue. Durkan's office had asked about state funding for the city's homelessness crisis.

Meanwhile, median cost of a single-family house in Seattle rose 110 percent since Amazon opened its headquarters in 2010, according to The Seattle Times.

Organizers of Saturday's march argue that they are fighting against "Amazon's bullying" and want to tax 'big business to fund affordable housing'.

But the fight is about more than just one company or one policy.


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