Seattle has imposed a new tax that may have it’s largest companies and employers running for the hills. The new tax is set to charge large companies a high amount per employee to address the city’s homelessness issue. The money gained from the tax will go towards services for the homeless and for affordable housing projects. The tax will only affect companies that make more than 20 million US per year.
Companies like Amazon – which was founded in Seattle and is the world’s second largest company – and Starbucks have threatened to halt growth in the city in response. Amazon has even halted the construction of it’s newest high rise in the city in protest.
Starbucks has also intensely critiqued the new tax, which can be read about in detail here.
Because of protest from these companies and a few others, the city has already lowered the tax from a proposed $500 per employee to $275 per employee, per year. With the amount of employees at Amazon, $10 million alone within the expected $45 million to $50 million total revenue would come from the mega-successful company.
While Amazon doesn’t think this should be their responsibility, campaigners of the tax don’t agree. Supporters of the tax say that Amazons rapid growth in Seattle had consequences in the form of rapid incline in cost of living, leaving tons of residents in their dust. They believe that Amazon should be aware of this and do their part in fixing the problem, seeing as their company and founder are some of the wealthiest in the world.
Despite the resistance, the tax was voted in unanimously. The next few years will prove to tell if the tax will truly improve Seattle’s homeless crisis.

There is such a huge homelessness problem in Seattle that in 2015, the city declared a state of emergency. To tackle this issue, Seattle and various organizations are pitching in efforts. Amazon—yes, you heard it, the company behind—has devoted 47,000 square feet of its new office space to be a Mary’s Place location. Mary’s Place is a nonprofit that runs several homeless facilities meant for families and women. The Mary’s Place location that Amazon is sponsoring will have 65 rooms that will provide safe spaces for more than 200 individuals to sleep in.

In the previous year, Amazon worked out a deal where Mary’s Place would temporarily settle in a hotel located on a lot that Amazon purchased. Mary’s Place will be staying there until the new Amazon campus is completely built. Already, workers at Amazon volunteer their time to work at the shelter and to visit its residents. They help to make the quality of life at the shelter as nice as possible by arranging arts and crafts projects, as well as parties for families. They also bring food. Mary’s Place Residents and Amazon workers are expected to move in together by the early part of 2020. Mary’s Place does amazing work for the health, safety and well-being of women and families.

Tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft are sometimes accused by critics for contributing to a tech boom that has resulted in a crisis of people not being able to attain affordable housing. However, they are making their best efforts to help those in society who are less fortunate. This past April, the co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, gave $30 million to help soothe the homelessness crisis in Seattle. In January, companies such as Alaska Airlines, Microsoft, Expedia and Starbucks raised $4.5 million while taking part in a “No Child Sleeps Outside” campaign.