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Why it might finally be time for Sawant’s Amazon tax

The push for an Amazon tax renews again in 2020. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has long been a polarizing presence in the city’s political scene, evidenced most recently by her latest proposal for a so-called “Amazon tax.” But could it finally be the right time for what’s traditionally been a controversial idea?

Kshama Sawant rallies support for head tax relaunch

“We know individually, these rich folks aren’t really being taxed too much,” KIRO Nights co-host Gee Scott pointed out. “And we’re expecting them to kind of give a little bit. So I am with Kshama Sawant a little bit. I wasn’t before; I really wasn’t.”

“I think I was more jaded by the extremeness of it, and I was more jaded by the delivery in the message — I do think going forward I want some taxes,” Gee added.

On Monday, Sawant unveiled her full proposal for an updated head tax. She wants to tax Seattle’s biggest businesses in the range of $200-$500 million a year, to address issues like homelessness and affordable housing.

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.

A flyer Monday night during a rally unveiling the proposal stated that this is “not a tax on jobs. It’s a tax on big corporations, meaning on the multi-millions and billionaires.”

The 2020 priorities for a new-look Seattle City Council

In 2018, the original head tax was largely considered to be a debacle, initially getting approved by City Council before it was walked back entirely. This time around, though, this new version’s success could simply be a question of execution.

“We need to have the money to be able to work on issues. But we also need to make sure that the money we’re collecting is being spent appropriately,” noted co-host Aaron Mason. “There are institutions, there are corporations, and there are people who have plenty to spare. So you take a little slice from them, and then you hold accountable the people who are in charge of it to make sure that that money is being spent well.”

Listen to KIRO Nights with Gee Scott and Aaron Mason weekdays from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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