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Sawant renews push for Seattle head tax in 2020

Groups for and against Seattle's head tax rally at Seattle City Hall May 9, 2018. (Matt Pitman, KIRO Radio)

As 2020 opens, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is already hinting at the possibility of revisiting a large business levy akin to 2018’s controversial head tax.

The 2020 priorities for a new-look Seattle City Council

Sawant outlined broad strokes of her proposal to pursue some sort of levy on larger local businesses in a late-December op-ed for CounterPunch. In it, she detailed plans for a rally at Washington Hall on Jan. 13.

The “Tax Amazon 2020 Kickoff” will double as Sawant’s swearing-in for the new council session, where she hopes to officially launch her movement.

“At that event, we will be re-launching Tax Amazon as a grassroots organization to fight for a strong tax on Seattle’s biggest businesses to fund social housing,” she penned on CounterPunch.

Through all this, Sawant is looking to ride the momentum from a hotly-contested Seattle council campaign, that saw Amazon contribute over $1.4 million to the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the political arm of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Just two out of seven CASE-endorsed candidates won their respective races, a fact Sawant labels as a directive to pursue her proposal.

“Our reelection, but also the overall City Council results, were as close of a referendum on the Amazon tax as possible,” said Sawant, shortly after she was reelected.

That sentiment has been echoed in the mayor’s office as well.

Seattle head tax 101

“I think there’s a strong likelihood there will be a progressive business tax in 2020,” Mayor Jenny Durkan told The Seattle Times, going on to note that it would largely depend on whether it’s done at the city, county, or even state level.

“We have to look at a range of options,” she clarified.

Over 800 people have responded on Facebook as “interested” in Sawant’s Jan. 13 rally, with over 260 marked as “going.”

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