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Kshama Sawant says Seattle is a ‘playground for the rich,’ calls for Amazon protest

Kshama Sawant. (AP)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is calling for a protest Tuesday outside Amazon.

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In a tweet, Sawant said Seattle is becoming a “playground for the rich,” noting that rents are out of control and home ownership is out of reach for many.

The protest, Sawant says, is to fight for taxing big businesses such as Amazon to fund affordable housing.

This is her tweet in its entirety:

“Rents are out of control in Seattle. Homeownership no option for most of us, w/ median price $820,000. City’s becoming a playground for the rich. Working people need to fight to tax big biz like Amazon to fund affordable housing! Protest 5:30PM today at Amazon Campus 7th & Lenora”

Sawant is a proponent of an employee hours tax — or head tax — being explored by the city. Money generated from the proposed tax would fund affordable housing projects and emergency services.

When city leaders first proposed a head tax, Sawant encouraged her fellow council members to double the tax on big business. Under Sawant’s proposal, Amazon would pay approximately $8 million a year, she said.

“That is less than six parts in thousand of one percent of their 2016 revenue,” she said at the time. She added the fractions are “so small, it doesn’t even make sense. “It’s 1/625th of the money they … intend to use to build a new campus.”

The city council recently began crafting legislation for a new head tax. It follows a task force’s recommendation to implement such a tax to raise up to $150 million a year. Sawant said it’s the most “rational solution.”

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Meanwhile, business owners have expressed concern over a head tax. Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland warned that all businesses would be taxed, many of which may not be able to afford it.

“My understanding from the proposal received by the Progressive Revenue Taskforce on Housing and Homelessness is that they want to tax all businesses. They talked about having a tax on every single business so that people would put quote ‘skin in the game.’”

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