Sawant pushes Amazon tax to raise $500 million for coronavirus relief

Mar 16, 2020, 9:35 AM | Updated: 9:36 am
Kshama Sawant, Tax Amazon...
Kshama Sawant detailing her plan to tax Seattle's big businesses. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

As restaurants and bars close in Seattle, Councilmember Kshama Sawant is repurposing her proposed Amazon tax into a coronavirus relief fund.

Sawant details expansive plan to tax Amazon, other big businesses

The tax would be levied on big businesses in Seattle, raise “at least $500 million for coronavirus emergency relief,” and then be continued as an ongoing tax on big business for social housing measures and Green New Deal policies.

“Amazon has a tax haven in Seattle,” said Councilmember Sawant on Twitter, stressing the need to support workers in need, and criticizing reports that Whole Foods — owned by Amazon — initially had told workers to “donate” paid sick leave to fellow employees in need during the region’s coronavirus outbreak.

As many businesses have begun to temporary close their doors, low-wage workers have been left without a steady source of income. That’s something Sawant — and the bill’s co-sponsor Tammy Morales — hope to alleviate, providing “cash assistance including lost incomes of working people,” as well as funds for testing and treatment, tiny house villages for the homeless, and small business relief.

State lawmakers bring Seattle head tax battle to Olympia

Sawant is looking to get the word out in the form of an online petition addressed to her fellow councilmembers and Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“The coronavirus crisis, a worldwide pandemic, is ravaging our communities and putting at risk the lives and health of thousands in our city,” the petition reads. “It would be unconscionable to place the further burden of the coronavirus crisis on ordinary working people and those who are already most economically stressed.”

Councilmember Sawant originally proposed the legislation earlier in 2020 as a tax on 800 big businesses in Seattle with payrolls over $7 million a year. That added up to $300 million a year toward affordable housing and Green New Deal measures. Under her new proposal, that bill would be passed “immediately,” allocating those funds directly to coronavirus relief for the time being.

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Sawant pushes Amazon tax to raise $500 million for coronavirus relief