By Tim Pearce
The Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to repeal its less-than-a-month-old “head tax” on the city’s businesses Tuesday in a win for employers, The Seattle Times reports.
On May 15, the council unanimously approved an annual tax of $275 per employee to fund housing programs for the city’s homeless population. The tax was expected to net the city nearly $50 million, according to Bloomberg.
The tax on jobs faced significant pushback from the city’s employers, including large corporations such as Amazon and Starbucks, that threatened Seattle’s economic growth. Amazon placed the construction of a 17-story office building on hold because of the tax. The e-commerce giant employs more than 45,000 workers in Seattle and the new offices would hold about 7,000 more.
Repealing the tax was “the right decision for the region’s economic prosperity,” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said, according to The Seattle Times. “We are deeply committed to being part of the solution,” he added, referring to the city’s homeless.
Businesses across the city had raised more than $280,000, including $25,000 from Amazon, and launched a city-wide campaign to hold the head tax up for a referendum. The campaign used paid and volunteer canvassers to travel Seattle collecting signatures.
The Service Employees International Union, one of the largest unions in the U.S., launched a counter campaign, raising $70,000 to fund the effort to convince Seattleites to not sign the business’ petition.
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