Capitol Hill’s representative to the Seattle City Council introduced a new partner — and some new math — Wednesday morning in her effort to create a new payroll tax on the city’s largest employers to pay for housing and homelessness services.
District 3 representative Kshama Sawant announced that her new District 2 colleague Tammy Morales, representing South Seattle, has joined as co-sponsor of the so-called Tax Amazon legislation, Sawant’s proposal to create a payroll tax on the city’s largest 3% of businesses in Seattle that her office says would raise $300 million annually.
The proposal also has some new math in the equation — the city legislators now say the tax on large companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Expedia can be lower than first planned and still generate similar revenue.
I’m at City Hall, where Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant is releasing actual draft legislation today, with Councilmember Tammy Morales now signing on as co-sponsor. Sawant now says tax rate actually only needs to be 0.7%, rather than 1.7%, to raise $300M/year. https://t.co/kA3OCOevw7
— Daniel Beekman (@DBeekman) March 4, 2020
In Olympia, meanwhile, proposals from 43rd District Rep. Nicole Macri to create a law at the state level that would allow King County to institute a smaller tax on businesses have so far fallen short on support. Tech companies including Amazon and Microsoft have been reluctant to support the bills without restrictions preempting cities from passing their own taxes on businesses to pay for housing and homelessness.
The statewide proposals some say could undermine a Seattle Tax Amazon effort would allow King County to enact a 0.1% to 0.2% tax on the payrolls of large employers. In Seattle, a tax at the scale could generate $121 million per year.
In Seattle, Sawant continues to put the Tax Amazon effort at the top of her agenda. Sunday, organizers say hundreds of people marched from Cal Anderson to the Amazon spheres to support a tax and speak out against any attempts at preemption at the state level.
In an interview this week with technology news site Gizmodo, Sawant made claims that Amazon selected Seattle as its headquarters because Jeff Bezos was “seeking out corporate tax havens.”
“There’s a history that shows you how we didn’t really they wanted some sort of tax haven in California. But as it turned out, the government said, well, that’s against the law because it’s native land. And then so they came to Seattle,” she says in the interview. “And again, as I said, it’s not a coincidence because Seattle and Washington state have the nation’s most regressive tax system.”
.@cmkshama and I believe we must find a more equitable way to fund public services, and we must ensure that housing is a human right.
— Tammy J. Morales (@CMTammyMorales) March 4, 2020
In the interview, in addition to calling Mayor Jenny Durkan “Amazon’s mayor,” Sawant also continues to hold out the possibility of a ballot initiative if the route to business tax through city council chambers is stymied.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Sawant this week were granted more time before a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission hearing on allegations the District 3 representative used her office to promote a potential Tax Amazon ballot measure, a potential violation of city law. Sawant could be fined up to $5,000 per violation.
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