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Kshama Sawant: Amazon tax ‘only thing’ that can rescue Seattle economy

Apr 30, 2020, 9:53 AM

Sawant, Amazon tax, coronavirus, Seattle, durkan...

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is continuing her push to pass a tax on big businesses as a means for providing coronavirus relief.

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

Sawant is co-sponsoring the bill with Councilmember Tammy Morales, having first proposed the tax on roughly 800 Seattle companies in February. Back then, it was about pushing businesses like Amazon to pay their fair share, so to speak. Now, Sawant sees it as necessary for the survival of Seattleites struggling during the ongoing outbreak.

“The attitude you need to focus on is how selfish and just deeply obscene this idea that big business has that they should not pay a dime, and somehow working people should pay for this crisis,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “We’re going have to pick a side, because somebody is going to pay for this crisis.”

The bill would levy a 1.3% tax on the top 2% of Seattle businesses measured by payroll. Using that money, the city would then distribute a series of $500 checks to members of the population hit hardest by the virus. After the outbreak is over, the tax would then fund affordable housing and Green New Deal policies.

Some have spoken out against the measure, including Mayor Jenny Durkan, as well as the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), which has argued the tax is the last thing the city’s economy needs right now.

According to Sawant, though, it could actually help turn things around in the days ahead.

“As long as our city depends on regressive taxes and we have a recession, expect the budget to plummet, because the budget depends on working people going to work,” she detailed. “If working people are losing jobs in huge numbers, then you’re not going to have any money, and you have to cover that money somewhere. That has to come from where the money exists, and that is at the top — it is as simple as that.”

State lawmakers bring Seattle head tax battle to Olympia

Because it won’t begin collecting money until 2022, the measure will require the city to borrow money from other existing programs, and then use the tax to pay that money back later on with interest.

That being so, Sawant stresses the immediate need to provide relief.

“The only thing that can get the city’s economy right now out of this unprecedented recession that we’re heading into … is precisely what the Amazon tax (does),” she noted.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Kshama Sawant: Amazon tax ‘only thing’ that can rescue Seattle economy