Seattle repeals head tax, avoids more ‘misinformed philanthropy’
The ever-progressive Seattle City Council yesterday repealed a head tax that it unanimously passed just a month ago tomorrow.
The tax would have cost Seattle’s largest corporations $275 per full-time employee, revenue which would be utilized to combat the city’s homelessness issues.
I was in Seattle when the council voted on May 14 to approve the “Amazon tax,” and it was the literal word on the street.
As my wife and I passed a downtown bus stop, one uniformed man talked with another about his former volunteer efforts with the city’s homeless, a conversation that I presume began about the tax. Our waitress at McCoy’s Firehouse raved against it, as did one of our Uber drivers.
Even The Seattle Times’s editorial board, which is quite liberal, wrote a scathing rebuttal to the tax, calling on Seattleites to “respond with an initiative” to overcome its harmful effects.
“In affirming its hostility to employers with a punitive job tax, the Seattle City Council is causing major harm to the city’s economic stability and long-term prosperity,” the board published on May 16.
The council’s reversal was undoubtedly influenced by threats from Amazon to cease development in the city, but also because regular people campaigned hard enough against the tax to force a referendum in November.
Mayor Jenny Durkan revealed that much.
“What changed is listening to people in the last month,” Durkan said on Tuesday when asked about her broken promises. “I heard people. It was time to take a pause, to hit reset, and to win back some of the confidence of the people.”
The head tax would have been yet another case of “legal plundering,” aka “misinformed philanthropy,” as 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat characterized taxation.
Even without the head tax, Seattle is going to spend some $70 million this year on homelessness, according to the Times.
@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News