The Seattle City Council approved a controversial new law that will tax employers in the city about $289 annually for each person they employee with the money going to provide for homeless services. That will allow the city to collect $48 million in new tax revenue each year. Only those business making more than $20 million annually will have to pay the new tax starting on January 1, 2019. The law is set to expire in five years if city officials do not choose to renew it.
There are currently about 10,000 people in Seattle who are homeless. About 2,900 of them sleep on the streets each night. The city says it will use the $240 million to construct 591 affordable units, help pay rent on 302 units and pay for 250 emergency shelter beds. When the law was originally proposed, the city wanted the tax to raise more than $75 million. The city’s mayor, however, said he hoped the new law would raise $40 million.
The new law would apply to about 585 businesses in the city. When the new law was originally proposed Amazon was working on two large expansion projects in Seattle. Amazon says that it will restart the planning of a 17-story office complex where up to 7,000 new employees would work. The company says, however, that they will be further considered if Bellevue, Washington, is a better option for them moving forward.
Starbucks also released a statement slamming the new law. It says that the city’s coffers have grown dramatically as businesses have chosen Seattle as their home. The city took in $2.8 billion in 2010 while in 2017 it took in over $4.2 billion. Starbucks urges officials to realize that companies will start moving elsewhere if they feel that the city is not responsible with its money.