DAVE ROSS

Economist: Seattle business tax could lead to ‘massive’ Amazon exodus to Bellevue

Jul 8, 2020, 6:55 AM
council, Amazon...
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Seattle City Council passed a landmark big business tax Monday, a move that one economist warns could drive companies like Amazon east into Bellevue.

Seattle council passes landmark big business tax proposal

According to Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner, it might have served Seattle better to focus on a tax applied regionally.

“As much as these things might make sense, they need to be applied on a regional, not citywide basis,” Gardner told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “… I’m not a fan of jurisdictions autonomously or independently trying to take on these kind of scenarios because all it does is it functions to push people out.”

The tax, dubbed “JumpStart Seattle” and sponsored by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, was first unveiled in mid-June. It will raise over $200 million a year by levying a tax on corporations with payrolls over $7 million. Qualifying businesses will be taxed 0.7% for every employee making over $150,000, and 1.4% for employees making over $500,000.

An earlier version this year was dubbed the “Amazon Tax” by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, similar to the head tax passed and then repealed by the council two years ago. In 2018, Amazon had warned city leaders that an increased tax burden could motivate the company to begin moving its operations out of Seattle.

Despite the quick repeal of the 2018 head tax, though, Amazon still began moving a sizable portion of its employees to Bellevue in 2019. Gardner sees that trend escalating in the wake of the latest big business tax.

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

“I think there’s no doubt that we’re going to hear several announcements over the next couple of weeks of some massive expansion by Amazon into Bellevue,” he predicted. “Really, it’s going to become one of those really bad-kept secrets.”

The council’s tax will borrow from the city’s emergency and general funds in the near term, and then pay that back when the tax begins to collect money in 2022. In the short term, it would be directed spending toward a handful of COVID-19 relief measures, including rental and business cash assistance programs, and housing and food security.

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

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross

pursuit...
Dave Ross

Ross: New criminal pursuit technology means no ‘Get Out of Jail Free’

So if the goal is to stop crooks without engaging in a dangerous police pursuit, I think there can be a political consensus.
13 hours ago
balloon...
Dave Ross

Ross: Chinese balloon shot down was ripe for counter-surveillance

What I can say is that if I were in charge of monitoring China, I’d be tracking every Chinese balloon from the moment it broke 1000 feet
2 days ago
ChatGPT...
Michael Simeona

Watch Dave Ross try to outsmart his new AI friend ChatGPT

If you've listened to Dave Ross these past few months, you know his fascination with the new AI tool called ChatGPT.
3 days ago
balloon...
Dave Ross

Ross: Was it a Chinese spy balloon, or luxury space travel prototype?

The defense department says it has been tracking a huge Chinese balloon over Montana
5 days ago
police...
Dave Ross

Ross: ‘Police used as substitute for properly funding social services’

The reason we keep seeing abuses like the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. It’s rooted in American culture.
6 days ago
millenials...
Dave Ross

Ross: More millennials need their parents help, but for how much longer

Dave was shocked to hear about the latest statistics from Money.com on the number of millennials being subsidized by their parents.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Economist: Seattle business tax could lead to ‘massive’ Amazon exodus to Bellevue