Seattle City Council considering 'head tax' repeal

Postado Junho 13, 2018

The tax was created to raise funds for affordable housing and homeless services but many of its critics question whether the Council can spend taxpayer dollars wisely to address the homelessness crisis.

Seattle City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on legislation that would repeal the city's recently passed head tax.

"It is clear that the ordinance will lead to a prolonged, expensive political fight over the next five months that will do nothing to tackle our urgent housing and homelessness crisis", the statement said.

The council didn't want to see the issue go to the voters, and on Monday, Council President Bruce Harrell called a special meeting for Tuesday to vote on the repeal.

"It looked like Republicans would make the Seattle employee hours tax a campaign challenge in swing districts around the state", O'Brien said.

Harrell, in an interview, declined to say if he considered the head tax "a mistake", but acknowledged "the vast majority of the people I talk to... seem to be opposed". Local business advocates argued the tax would discourage investment in the city.

Still, businesses who opposed any kind of head tax from the beginning condemned the bill as a tax on jobs, and some businesses began a campaign that would give voters the option to repeal the tax by putting it on the ballot.

Speaking to The Seattle Times in his office, a deflated O'Brien sighed deeply before explaining his decision to support the repeal.

"We heard you", they said, adding that the City Council would consider legislation this week.

Seattle City Council is considering repealing the controversial per-employee business tax. Today, she says the city council may have listened, but it's not enough. "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". It would target businesses making at least $20 million in gross revenue and take effect in January.

After resistance from Mayor Jenny Durkan and opposition from companies such as Amazon and construction-worker unions, the council approved the scaled-back version.

Councilmember Mike O'Brien, one of the original sponsors of the head tax legislation, has faced some of the harshest backlash in community town halls for his support of the measure.

Several Seattle-based corporations, including Amazon, the city's largest employer, publicly spoke out against the head tax in the hours after its passage.

McCrary says she thinks the issues struck a chord well outside the business community because homelessness affects everyone. The council's members are also expected to hold a vote at the meeting. They didn't provide a backup funding plan.

The Chamber of Commerce has convinced the vast majority of Seattleites 1) of the exhausted, old conservative trope that increased levels of human suffering we see in our city is caused by government inefficiency rather than by the Gilded Age level income inequality in Seattle and elsewhere, and 2) that leading first with a regional funding approach, reliant on higher property or sales taxes for all taxpayers, is preferable to resources from those most benefiting from income inequality in Seattle paying their fair share.