Seattle officially repeals tax on companies like Amazon, Starbucks

Seattle officially repeals tax on companies like Amazon, Starbucks
© Getty

Seattle political leaders on Tuesday reversed a new tax on big businesses that they just passed a few weeks ago, after pressure from companies like Amazon.

The Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to repeal the tax measure that political leaders unanimously approved weeks ago to combat rising homelessness in a city where housing prices have skyrocketed. 

The decision arrived after Amazon, the city’s largest employer, and other big businesses like Starbucks raised $200,000 to gather signatures for a referendum challenging the new policy. 

Mayor Jenny Durkan and city council President Bruce Harrell announced on Monday that they would end the tax ahead of the reversal. 

ADVERTISEMENT
“We heard you,” Durkan and seven of the nine city council members said in a statement. “This week, the City Council is moving forward with the consideration of legislation to repeal the current tax on large businesses to address the homelessness crisis.”

“The announcement from Mayor Durkan and the City Council is the breath of fresh air Seattle needs,” Marilyn Strickland, who heads the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, said. “Repealing the tax on jobs gives our region the chance to address homelessness in a productive, focused and unified way.”

Durkan told The Associated Press she and the city council moved to reverse the new tax in efforts to avoid a political fight against the city’s biggest businesses, which planned to submit those signatures on Tuesday in attempt to place the referendum on the November ballot.

The measure called for a $275-per-employee tax on businesses that brought in more than $20 million in revenue, with the funds going toward affordable housing and anti-homelessness programs.

A Chamber of Commerce study found that the tax would have cost the city $3.5 billion in revenue and more than 14,000 jobs.