Seattle City Council Repeals Head Tax

Seattle - Image-WikipediaOn May 17th we reported the imposition by the Seattle City Council and its mayor of a head tax.  A special levy on Employers in the city banking 20 million or more per year, including ubiquitous brands like Amazon and Starbucks.

Both of those corporate giants, among others immediately began funding a repeal referendum for the November ballot.

Opponents had already collected nearly 46,000 signatures from voters in support of a repeal initiative, well more than the 17,000 needed to qualify for the ballot, according to the Downtown Seattle Association, a business group which led the petition drive.

Despite rowdy crowds in favor of Seattle’s latest form of plunder, the council voted 7-2 to repeal the measure.

The council’s stunning reversal came as momentum was building for a referendum drive against the measure, just weeks after it was unanimously adopted by the council and signed into law by the mayor.

“This is a cowardly betrayal of the needs of the working people,” Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a leading proponent of the tax who voted against repeal, said to thunderous applause moments before the council completed its vote.

But Councilwoman Lisa Herbold said she was reluctantly voting for repeal rather than drag the city through a protracted political fight she called “not winnable at this particular time.”

Seattle has at least 12,000 homeless people according to the Reuters Article which proponents of the new tax say is a result of astronomical real estate prices.

Advocates for the poor say that rampant homelessness in the city is an extension of a larger crisis in affordable housing.

They cite data showing Seattle’s median home prices have soared to $820,000 and that 41 percent of renters ranked as “rent-burdened,” meaning they pay about a third or more of their income on housing.

And the weather sucks.

And there might be a complication for cities vying for Amazon HQ2.

Last month, about 40 elected officials from across the country, some from local governments vying to host Amazon’s second headquarters, published an open letter to Seattle in support of the head tax and expressing concern that Amazon opposed the measure.


As for Seattle, new forms of plunder are surely waiting in the wings whose imposition will only make the problems they claim will be fixed worse until all that is left is the problems.

Such is the unavoidable end after decades and decades of one-party progressive rule.