Seattle votes in favor of tax on large businesses to help combat homelessness

Seattle votes in favor of tax on large businesses to help combat homelessness
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The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 in support of a new "head tax" on the city’s largest businesses as part of an effort to help the city’s homeless, The Seattle Times reported.

The ordinance will impose a $275-per-employee tax on for-profit companies in Seattle that make $20 million or more. The law would affect about 3 percent of business in the city, according to the council.

The collected revenue would be used to address the civil state of emergency over homelessness that the city has been in since 2015.

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A spending plan for how the money will be allocated is still being considered, according to The Seattle Times.

“We have community members who are dying,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda told The Seattle Times before the vote. “They are dying on our streets today because there is not enough shelter” and affordable housing.

The tax will expire after five years, requiring the council to vote on whether to renew it in 2023.

A proposal to tax companies $500 per employee was being considered for several weeks but, after Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) threatened to veto it, the council voted to reduce the size of the tax.

Supporters of the tax say that large companies such as Starbucks and Amazon have contributed to Seattle’s homelessness by driving up rent and home prices.