Redfin CEO responds to Seattle head tax

May 16, 2018, 1:04 PM | Updated: 1:21 pm

head tax...

Supporters of a 2018 head tax in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Redfin continued its refusals to sign anti-tax petitions despite the company believing a head tax is wrong for Seattle.

RELATED: Seattle head tax 101

A day after the Seattle City Council approved the tax on businesses grossing more than $20 million, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman wrote this blog. In it, he writes that the business community is focusing on what it doesn’t want, without telling the public what it does want.

“Now, more than ever, we want the people who hear the business community say ‘no’ on the head tax to also hear, even more loudly and clearly, what we’d say ‘yes’ to,” Kelman writes.

Kelman says the city should be encouraging businesses to hire employees, rather than hiring contractors. He’s suggesting that a head tax will result in fewer permanent hires within the city.

The Redfin CEO also warns that entry-level jobs will be most affected.

“While a $275 head tax is perhaps small relative to the salary of a senior software engineer, it isn’t for the entry-level jobs that an economically diverse city needs most. Those are the jobs that will leave first due to this tax.”

Under the tax, nearly 600 businesses will have to pay $275 per employee, per year, until 2023. The money will raise nearly $50 million to help the city address its affordability and homeless problem.

Other businesses took a hard stance against the head tax. Amazon and Starbucks sent statements condemning the council’s decision. And 130 executives signed a letter opposing it.

Though Kelman’s opinion is perhaps more productive than others, he points out a tax should be used as a last resort; echoing others who say the Seattle council is putting the cart before the horse.

He writes:

“Since the $200 million Seattle has already spent on homelessness has not led to a clear improvement, the city should agree on a new plan to spend the money effectively before we all beat each others’ brains out over where to get more money. But we’ve elected a government to figure out that plan; what the business community owes that government is a promise that if and when such a program requires more money, we’ll fund it.”

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