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Amazon, Seattle Employers Face New Tax to Curb Homelessness

  • Local lawmakers approve $275 per-worker levy by vote of 9-0
  • Council had considered higher tax; mayor threatened veto
Apartment Construction As New Home Sales Figures Are Released
Photographer: Mike Kane/Bloomberg
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The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to impose a new tax on large employers to raise almost $50 million in funding for affordable housing construction and homeless services. The vote comes after weeks of intense debate over what responsibility large employers like Inc. have for the growing number of people living on the city’s streets.

Under the new law, companies bringing in more than $20 million in revenue a year would be required to pay $275 per employee every year. Amazon has more than 40,000 employees at its headquarters in Seattle, so the tax could cost the e-commerce giant more than $10 million annually. The city council would need to review the tax, which kicks in next year, after five years if the city wants to extend it. The unanimous vote for the ordinance protects it from a mayoral veto.