Seattle’s bid to create a new pool of “progressive revenue” to help the city overcome the economic downturn expected to stem from the COVID-19 crisis faces its final vote with the Seattle City Council Monday afternoon.\
Budget chair Teresa Mosqueda’s plan for a tax on big businesses is hoped to help Seattle overcome its forecasted budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 and to fund affordable housing, equitable development, and economic support for small businesses through a new tax on the city’s largest businesses that could generate more than $200 million a year.
The proposal passed out of committee last week on a 7-2 vote. Council member Alex Pedersen and Debora Juarez voted against the plan saying the preferred that voters decide on the tax.
Kshama Sawant’s Tax Amazon campaign, meanwhile, is championing the Mosqueda proposal. “This is critical. It’s the threat of our ballot initiative looming over the City Council that caused them to move forward on discussions around an Amazon Tax in the first place,” a message to supporters sent Monday morning reads. “With the final vote scheduled for tomorrow by the City Council on the Amazon Tax, it’s our continued momentum that can pressure City Council to pass a strong Amazon Tax without watering down, corporate loopholes or any further delays.”
In 2018, the city council passed and then rolled back a $275 per full-time employee tax on companies reporting $20 million or greater in annual “taxable gross receipts.” That tax would have generated only about $50 million annually.
While it is expected the full council will pass the legislation Monday, the new tax on big businesses could end up challenged in court. Mayor Jenny Durkan and business organizations have opposed the tax effort.
Wednesday, meanwhile, will bring a critical debate over COVID-19 crisis-driven changes to the city budget including what could be major cuts to SPD.
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