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The Seattle-Amazon tax fight is a lose-lose for everyone

16 Mai 2018

After weeks of heated debate and public hearings, the city council on Monday unanimously passed a tax of about $275 per worker annually - less than the $500 each initially envisioned - on businesses making at least $20 million a year.

I'm skeptical that a $10 million per year tax is going to have a meaningful impact on where Amazon, a company that generated almost $178 billion in sales last year, chooses to hire.

Amazon's dissatisfaction with Seattle ups the ante for whichever city gets tapped for the company's second headquarters.

ADOLPH: Mike O'Brien is a City Council member. That's lower than when it was first proposed at $500 per employee, but it is not quite as low as the $250-per-employee compromise that was voted down on Friday.

Meantime, Amazon is rapidly expanding in other cities, including Boston, where Tuesday it celebrated the opening of a new office on Melcher Street in Fort Point. The new tax will take effect in 2019.

A spending plan under consideration by the council calls for spending 66 percent of the new money on affordable housing, 32 percent on emergency shelter, trash pickup, raises for service workers and other needs and 2 percent on administration. "Because this ordinance represents a true shared solution, and because it lifts up those who have been left behind while also ensuring accountability and transparency, I plan to sign this legislation into law", said Durkan.

Residents showed up two hours before the vote Monday to wait in line and claim a space in the chamber, which was packed to capacity.

Supporters of a Seattle tax hike on large businesses chanted "we'll be back for more" after its passage on Monday.

The mayoral veto needs a more powerful force for it to override, which now has the majority of only five members, who have given a thumbs up to the head tax of $500 per employee, in order to assist the homeless. The city says it will use the new funds to combat homelessness. "So you're either well-off and hungry or homeless and well fed". But, he said, Amazon is one of many companies that have grown in MA lately without fighting over taxes, willing to pay to access the state's talented workforce.

"People are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity", Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said in the meeting. "But we have to find ways to come together to take action on our toughest problems".

"The spending keeps going up and we're not seeing results".

The councilmember said Bezos becomes $275 million richer every day.

The city of Seattle lost because it failed to articulate a well-thought out strategy for dealing with homelessness; passed a watered-down bill that alienated the business community; and only won half as much revenue as it said it needed.

The compromise failed to defuse tensions between Amazon and the city it has called home for the last 24 years. "It epitomizes the growing agitation around traffic issues, homeless issues, development issues, housing issues".

The Seattle-Amazon tax fight is a lose-lose for everyone