Business coalition supports concept of a King County head tax

Feb 12, 2020
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Written by Washington Retail
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Seattle councilwoman Sawant will re-introduce a similar rival tax

A coalition of major businesses in King County has endorsed the concept of a state bill that could permit a county business tax to fund affordable housing and homeless services.

Also this week, Seattle councilwoman Kshama Sawant announced that she would re-introduce a similar payroll tax of 1.7% to 3% to fund affordable housing and convert Seattle homes from gas and oil heat to electric systems. Opposition from Seattle’s business community forced the council to repeal a payroll tax of $275 per employee that Sawant introduced in 2018.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports companies backing the state legislation include Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, Costco, Weyerhaeuser and Zillow. The Legislature proposal would allow a King County payroll tax between 0.1% and 0.2% on employees who earn $150,000 or more a year if the County Council approved.

As homelessness has grown and housing costs have risen in King County, businesses have become concerned about issues related to recruiting employees and shoppers alike.

The Business Journal reports that one issue with the state bill, House Bill 2907, includes whether it would include a provision barring Seattle from levying additional business taxes to address homelessness and affordable housing if the Legislature approved it.

Washington Retail opposed the Seattle payroll tax before and after it was passed in 2018. Look for updates on the outcome of these proposals in this newsletter, on our website, www.washingtonretail.org and in Washington Retail social media postings.