CEO of Downtown Association calls head tax bad public policy

Apr 23, 2018, 9:34 AM | Updated: 3:34 pm

homeless camp...

Homeless could not be closer to schools or chruches under a new proposal. (City of Seattle)

(City of Seattle)

There appears to be growing support within the Seattle City Council to charge a head tax on large businesses.

RELATED: Mad about a Seattle employee head tax?

A proposed bill released Friday would tax businesses earning $20 million or more a year — some 500 in all — 26 cents per employee hour. An estimated $75 million would be raised to tackle homelessness and the affordable housing issues, according to the Progressive Revenue Task Force.

Those in favor of the tax argue big businesses driving the city’s economic boom and attracting high-wage employees are also driving up the cost of housing, pushing people out of their homes. According to a recent report, approximately 3 percent of businesses would be taxed.

Jon Scholes, the CEO and president of the Downtown Seattle Association, calls it bad public policy.

“I thought it was bad public policy when they first proposed it last fall and still think so today,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

The council rejected the original head tax effort with a 5-4 vote last year. That would have raised $25 million a year.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who warned people not to listen to the rhetoric from businesses that would be impacted by the tax, wanted the city to double down on the original tax.

Scholes says the council’s approach to a head tax is backward. He points out that leaders from Seattle, King County, and homeless service agencies have been working toward a solution. However, the city council does not appear willing to wait for any kind of recommendation. The council is “rushing” to tax jobs and businesses within the city.

“If spending were the only thing keeping us from solving the issue of homelessness in the city, we would have addressed it long ago,” he added.

According to the current legislation, the head tax would go into effect in 2019 and continue through 2020. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the head tax would be replaced by a payroll tax.

The Finance and Neighborhoods Committee will hold one public hearing Monday, April 23, on the proposed legislation.

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

ross liable AI misinformation...

Dave Ross

Ross: Tech companies need to be held liable for any AI misinformation

There are warnings of a robot takeover, maybe even the extinction of civilization. At the very least an attempt to use AI to subvert the election process.

10 hours ago

patty murray debt ceiling...

Dave Ross

Ross: Patty Murray vows to restore social services as debt ceiling bill passes

This is a guest commentary from Senator Patty Murray. She was presiding over the Senate as they passed the debt ceiling bill last night.

3 days ago

irs funding debt limit bill...

Dave Ross

Ross: IRS funding lost in debt limit bill, tax cheats rejoice

The debt limit bill passed in a classic bi-partisan compromise, and I was actually impressed by last night’s debate.

4 days ago

Irs debt ceiling...

Dave Ross

Ross: IRS has new no-pursuit policy with debt ceiling deal

This debt ceiling deal means the IRS will have to adopt a no-pursuit policy. It means the highway is clear, and all the lights are green.

5 days ago

book ban...

Dave Ross

Ross: Can anybody really ban a book?

For all the talk about a book ban, Dave Ross explains why he's never had any trouble getting any book he wants.

6 days ago

Republicans debt...

Dave Ross

Ross: Republicans are really using the debt crisis to spend more

Ross: You are not going to reduce the debt. Especially if you have people like Senator Graham who are using this crisis to spend more money.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

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.

CEO of Downtown Association calls head tax bad public policy