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Amazon, Seattle Employers Face New Tax to Curb Homelessness

Amazon, Seattle Employers Face New Tax to Curb Homelessness

After weeks of controversy during which online retail giant Amazon paused the planning of construction on a major city project, the Seattle City Council voted Monday to approve a scaled-down, almost $50 million annual head tax on large corporations.

"A tax on jobs at any level is bad economic policy and will negatively impact Seattle's economy and city tax revenues", Downtown Seattle Association spokesperson James Sido wrote in a statement.

About 3 percent of Seattle businesses will be affected and the tax will raise about $47 million per year, according to the council.

Under the amended tax, Amazon will be on the hook for about $11 million annually, rather than the $20 million that the original proposal would have levied.

He noted that Seattle revenue has grown dramatically and that the city "does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem". The tax would end after five years with a review in the last year to determine whether or not it should continue. That's down from $500 per employee proposed in the initial head tax plan, which faced a potential veto from Mayor Jenny Durkan. Amazon has more than 40,000 employees at its headquarters in Seattle, so the tax could cost the e-commerce giant more than $10 million annually.

Durkan (D) is expected to sign the measure, which passed unanimously and will impose an annual tax of $275 on each employee at businesses making at least $20 million a year in revenue.

Amazon, which had paused planning on two downtown Seattle office towers pending the outcome of the vote, said Monday it would resume construction planning on Block 18.

"There is no way this tax will be a burden on big businesses in Seattle", Sawant said, slamming the mayor for siding with "Amazon billionaires".

Amazon and Seattle-based coffeehouse chain Starbucks did not immediately respond to FOX Business's request for comment on the city council's decision. "We'll be back for more!" "Because every city is facing a housing and homelessness crisis". It found that a lack of coordination between Seattle, surrounding cities, and the county creates inefficiency in the region's homeless response.

But the city says homelessness is a moving target. Other estimates put that number at about $54 million in 2017.

Meanwhile, median cost of a single-family house in Seattle rose 110 percent since Amazon opened its headquarters in 2010, according to The Seattle Times. The money will reportedly be used to combat Seattle's raging homeless problem, but critics are asking what's happened to the millions already spent on such programs over the last few years.

The city spent $68 million on homelessness previous year, and some said they wanted to see the city prioritize its money better. The company made about 80 times that, $1.6 billion, in net first-quarter profits.

"While Amazon didn't single-handedly cause this problem, they have contributed to the growing income inequality, displacement and housing affordability issues facing our city", they said in a statement to The Seattle times earlier this month.

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