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.

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.

March 7, 2018 · KIRO 7, Seattle · (No comments)

KIRO 7, a local television network in the city of Seattle, has given back to its viewers in a very big way. After airing a story about the medical debt of several people in the state of Washington, the station purchased over a million dollars in outstanding fees, relieving the financial burden previously imposed on over a thousand people.

According to the KIRO 7 report, the station “worked with a company out of New York called RIP Medical Debt. They made the purchase on our behalf and we do not know who is getting relief, so it could cover just one doctor’s visit or one test.”

Those who received debt relief can now expect to receive a yellow envelope in the mail with the KIRO 7 logo on it, informing them of their new found luck.

KIRO 7 was assisted in the mission to relieve the debt of people across the state by the generous donations of thousands of viewers, all of whom were eager to help after watching a heartbreaking story about families going into bankruptcy after an illness.

As it turns out, according to their findings, “medical debt is the number one cause for personal bankruptcy” in the United States, and despite the passing of laws and the coverage of insurance companies, it still shatters thousands of lives each and every year.

While the generosity of KIRO 7 will certainly help improve the lives of many people suffering from medical debt, it is only a drop in the bucket of a larger problem. If you would like to assist in the mission to alleviate the pain of medical debt from those affect, feel free to check out DebtDonation.com and give as much or as little as you can!

December 6, 2017 · Income Tax, Seattle · (No comments)

Seattle has been wanting to implement a citywide income tax. However, this income tax will not come to be. A judge ruled that such an income tax is against the constitution of Washington State. Many residents are happy with the decision that was made by the Superior Judge of Kings County. Attorneys who argued against the tax said that this decision is a victory for every taxpayer in Seattle.

The income tax, which was passed by the city and its legislators, said that people who live in Seattle and who earn more than $240,000 a year, or people who earn more than $500,000 a year if they are filing taxes jointly, have to pay a 2.25% income tax.

The State Constitution and previous legal rulings clearly state that a city or county in Washington State cannot tax net income. The city said that there is a difference between net income and total income. However, the judge ruled otherwise, saying that the tax was on net income, and it was therefore unconstitutional.

Another argument that was made by the city was that it was not an income tax at all but an excise tax. They argued that an excise tax, which is levied on citizens for choosing to do something voluntarily, is okay. They argued that earning a wage by working is something that is voluntary, and that living in Seattle is voluntary, and if someone wants to they can move out of Seattle to a nearby suburb or just not work, so taxing income is not a problem. However, the judge decided that that was not the case. Voters in Washington have consistently voted down local income taxes. Most voters do not want additional taxes levied upon them by their local city or county.