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Pierce County hopes to set ‘good example’ with employee tax credit

If you start a business in Seattle that you think will gross $20 million or more annually, be prepared to pay $275 each year for every employee you have.

But move your business 30 miles down the road to Tacoma, and you could be looking at a $275 reward for everyone you hire.

RELATED: Dori wonders why anyone would start a business in Seattle

Bruce Kendall, CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that King County’s southern neighbor was determined to quash the international reputation — in the wake of the Seattle City Council’s head tax passage — that all of the Puget Sound supported taxing businesses on a number of employees.

“We felt it was important to make sure that we distinguished ourselves in the Puget Sound marketplace as a part of the region that actually rewards companies for creating jobs,” he said.

Pierce County will provide employers with a $275 tax credit per job — the exact same amount that Seattle is taxing its 600 top-grossing businesses.

“It’s the number that has been presented to the region, if you will,” Kendall said. “It’s been getting a lot of play … we felt, and our political leadership felt, that we needed to make sure that we were identifying an equally large number, if you will, as a credit or as a benefit to those companies.”

The tax credit applies to both existing and new companies, though it will only encompass any new jobs that are created. All jobs paying $65,000 or more annually will qualify.

In its actions, Pierce County hopes to show businesses that it values job creation, according to Kendall.

“We felt that there was a big paintbrush, perhaps, brushing us all with the same paint about Puget Sound being the environment where these sorts of things [like the head tax] happen,” he said.

Kendall said that last week’s passage of the head tax, the largest of its kind in the nation, shocked him.

“Because the number was so unusually high, I was surprised,” he said.

Kendall is adamant that the move is not about “taking a jab” at anyone, but rather showing other communities the possibilities of embracing business.

“We’re all in this together … and we hope that we’re setting a good example,” he said.

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