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Economy

The Precipitous Fall of Seattle’s ‘Amazon Tax’

The city’s ambitious plan to fund affordable housing by taxing corporations had a very short life. What happened?
As Seattle's city council voted on whether to repeal the tax, Scott McClay banged a gong 6,000 times, for every Seattle resident living without shelter.
As Seattle's city council voted on whether to repeal the tax, Scott McClay banged a gong 6,000 times, for every Seattle resident living without shelter.Ted S. Warren/AP

In a rapid about-face, the Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to overturn a new tax they had unanimously approved just a month earlier, intended to fund affordable housing and homelessness initiatives. Lawmakers voted seven to two to reverse the tax on the city's largest corporations after an aggressive campaign to put a repeal of the law on the November ballot.

"[T]his is not a winnable battle at this time. The opposition has unlimited resources," said Lisa Herbold, who voted for the tax, and then for the repeal.