What Q’s do you have about this head tax? 🤔

What Q’s do you have about this head tax? 🤔

Amazon told the city last week that it was hitting pause on building new office space. Why? Because of a controversial head tax. Thanks for tagging #theevergrey, Marcus.


There’s a red hot debate right now about a big new tax the city wants to charge large local companies, and it’s a collision of four of the things we Seattleites get most tense about: housing, taxes, Amazon, and our city’s super fast growth.

Here’s what we know: The head tax would affect for-profit businesses earning at least $20 million a year. Starting next year, businesses would be charged 26 cents for every hour each of their employees work — or about $500 per worker. The tax is expected to raise $75 million each year, which the city says it’ll spend on affordable housing and homeless emergency services.

When five city councilmembers — that’s a majority — said last week they would support turning this proposal into law, Amazon made a big move. Because it would cost the company $20 million a year under the head tax, it paused construction on a new office building to send the city a message: Remember how many jobs we bring to the city — and that we can take them somewhere else.

After that, community discussions about the head tax got heated — just check out this video from a Ballard town hall or this one from a rally outside the Amazon Spheres. City leaders are weighing all of the feedback before the council plans to take a vote on May 14.

»» If you’re left feeling confused or curious about this whole issue, we promise you’re not the only ones. So tell us what questions you have about the head tax here. And remember: there are no dumb questions!  

We’ll look to answer your Q’s in a follow-up piece this week. Meanwhile, check out this piece in The Seattle Times for more on how the head tax issue has bubbled up.


What will Jenny do? Some people like the idea of a per-worker “head tax” on big local companies to raise money to tackle our housing crisis; others, like local business leaders, don’t.  And then there’s Mayor Jenny Durkan. She is in a really tough place with this politically, and reporter Dan Beekman breaks down why.

“She could usher the tax into law, underlining her commitment to helping vulnerable people, but alienating Amazon and voters who don’t trust City Hall to spend wisely,” he writes. “Or Durkan could try to block the tax with a veto, responding to pressure from the council’s critics but leaving low-income- housing dollars on the table and exposing herself to those who would accuse her of shilling for big business.” Her hope? “I’m going to see if we can get to a place where we have business and labor and the council and us agree on a path forward,” she told the Times editorial board. Best of luck — ‘cause that does not sound easy. (The Seattle Times)

‘We are not the villain.’ Dick’s Drive-In has been serving up that “Deluxe, fries, and a shake” since 1954. Now it’s got an order up for pipin’ hot compromise: If the city wants to raise $75 million from big local businesses to help fight homelessness, could it let businesses donate the money straight to charities instead of handing it over as a head tax? “The Seattle business community has shown repeatedly that we want to be part of the solution here,” Dick’s VP Jasmine Donovan told KOMO. (KOMO)

Can’t stand the heat? Grab one of these cocktails. Good for relieving both the actual heat of that occasional warm Seattle spring day and, you know, everything else that’s stressing you out these days. 🍸 (Eater Seattle)

Some companies have company baseball teams. Amazon has — no joke — its own symphony. It’s got 85 musicians, all super-talented employees who dig a good concerto, and they’re good. Check out a sample of their work in Hallie Golden’s story for Crosscut, and while you’re at it, give a listen to a couple other musical groups in the tech scene: Facebook’s Face Clef and Microsoft’s Baudboys. (Crosscut)


🎙 Wednesday: Get tips on how volunteering can accelerate your career at the next Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)

🐟  Saturday: Put the “sea” in Seattle with the whole family at the Harley Marine Seattle Maritime Festival (Lawton Park)

🍻  May 14: Hang out with fellow readers and the fine folks at South Seattle Emerald at our next Evergrey Meetup (Rainier Beach)

Want to partner on your event with us? Here’s how.



🏞 Learn the basics of backpacking (Capitol Hill)
🗣 Geek out about augmented reality (Queen Anne)


🎈 Bike to school with your kiddos (All over)
🎶 Listen to live classical music at the library (Downtown)
🗣 Hear how we can fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy (U-District)
💪 Learn how volunteering can help you with Impact Hub at this Evergrey partner event (Pioneer Square)


🗣 Hear from women storytellers about #MeToo (Capitol Hill)
🍺 Kick off Seattle Beer Week with other brew nerds – through May 20 (All over)
👋 Celebrate PNW tech rock stars at the GeekWire Awards (Queen Anne)
🗣 Listen to bawdy stories from your neighbors (Belltown)


🎟 See some dark puppet comedy (Green Lake)
🎟 Watch a drag tribute to the cartoon characters of Steven Universe (Belltown)
🎶 Dance to live Guinean music (Rainier Valley)
🏞 Paddle out on the lake  (Sammamish)


🎨 Get a behind-the-seams look at 1940s fashion (South Lake Union)
🍴 Nom on savory and sweet pierogi (Capitol Hill)
👋 Welcome Seattle’s new social justice library (Beacon Hill)
👋 Check out your neighbors’ garage treasures (West Seattle)
🎈 Go sssssee snakes and lizards at the Reptile Expo (Monroe)
🎈 Hang with the fishes at the Seattle Maritime Festival, an Evergrey partner event (Lawton Park)


🎶 Hear lullabies by moms struggling with homelessness (Downtown)
🎈 See bonsai trees with the family (Federal Way)
🎈 Run or walk a half-marathon with your kiddos (Kirkland)
🎟 Take mom to a comedy show about the “joys and horrors” of parenthood (Downtown)

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with an Evergrey membership.


Come hang with fellow Evergrey readers and our friends at The South Seattle Emerald. We’ll be trading stories and drinking custom Greyhound slushies at Jude’s Old Town in Rainier Beach starting at 7:30 p.m. Think you can make it? RSVP here and bring a friend. 🍻

We’ll see you tomorrow.  — The Evergrey

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