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Last week, we told you about some of the controversy surrounding an idea for a head tax — a perfect storm of the four things Seattleites get most tense about: Amazon, housing, taxes and city growth.
Here’s what we know: The head tax would affect for-profit businesses earning at least $20 million a year. The proposal says, starting next year, businesses would be charged 26 cents every hour each of their employees work — about $500 a worker — which is expected to raise $75 million each year. The city says that money would go toward affordable housing and homeless emergency services. A bill to create this new tax earned the support of council members Lorena González, Lisa Herbold, Teresa Mosqueda, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant (that’s a majority of our City Council).
So when those five city councilmembers said last week they would support turning this proposal into a 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 elsewhere. 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.