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Proposed business tax targets Seattle’s largest companies

(File, AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

As the Seattle City Council considers its next budget, two council members are proposing a new business tax that will place fees on the city’s top earning companies to fund programs for the homeless.

“It is our large employers who have benefited most from Seattle’s economic boom,” said Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley. “As a result, big business is best positioned to help relieve some of the pressure created by rapid growth. We need a systematic fix to help address the resulting lack of affordable housing and dearth of places for people to go. This is a solution that protects the most vulnerable in our city and will help small businesses thrive.”

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Harris-Talley is proposing the new tax along with Councilmember Mike O’Brien. They call it the H.O.M.E.S. proposal — Housing, Outreach and Mass-Entry Shelter.

Mayor Tim Burgess recently gave the council his proposed budget. According to O’Brien and Harris-Talley, it doesn’t go far enough to fund programs for the homeless. The two council members believe their tax will raise up to $24 million to go toward 24-hour shelters, encampments, and tiny homes. They also want to fund outreach, safe zones for people living in their vehicles, and rental assistance for people making less than 30 percent of the area’s median income.

Proposed business tax

To reach the $24 million revenue mark, the council members are proposing:

  • A tax on the top 10 percent of the highest-grossing businesses in Seattle.
  • Those businesses would pay 4.8 cents per hour, per employee.
  • This will equate to roughly $100 per employee, annually.
  • If approved, the tax would begin in early 2018.

The city council is expected to discuss the tax proposal at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Oct. 16.

Harris-Talley is an interim council member standing in for Tim Burgess who has taken over the role of mayor after Ed Murray resigned. She was selected by the council last week out of three nominated options, and is expected to serve until the November election is verified and a replacement is voted in.

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