Enough signatures collected to get repeal of Seattle's head tax on November ballot

SEATTLE — Voters will likely see an option to repeal Seattle's head tax on the ballot this November.

Reporter Rob Munoz explains why some want the tax repealed. Rob's on air until 7 a.m.

After weeks of controversy and passionate volunteers on both sides trying to convince you to sign or not sign the petition, the "No Tax On Jobs" campaign says it's collected “well more than” 20,000 signatures, and celebrated at The Shelter Lounge in Ballard on Sunday.

The campaign says the signatures will be dropped off at city hall on Tuesday, two days before the June 14 deadline.

People against the head tax needed about 17,600 signatures to get the option to repeal the tax on the ballot. Now, people who support the tax say they'll be taking the fight to the polls.

“Quite frankly, it's atrocious what's happening around the city,” said Erika Nagy, who is part of the “No Tax On Jobs” campaign.

“Seattle is one of the biggest places for homelessness,” said Jeremy Hutson, a veteran, and a supporter of the head tax.

People on both sides of the head tax aisle agree that something needs to be done to help fix Seattle's homelessness crisis.

In May, Seattle's city council unanimously passed the employee head tax.

It would charge companies that bring in $20 million or more per year  -- the top 3 percent of Seattle companies --  about $275 per employee in taxes. The money would be used to build affordable housing and put towards homeless services.

“I think those companies can afford it very well,” said Bucky Harris, another Seattle resident who supports the head tax. “Things have really gone south since all the development,” he said.

But since the head tax passed, people and businesses against the tax  have fought back hard.

“The voters are fed up,” Nagy said.

“It was frustrating. It is tough to do business in Seattle these days, and it really felt like businesses were being demonized,” said Denise Moriguchi, CEO of Uwajimaya.

For three weeks, “No Tax on Jobs" collected signatures for a petition to get repealing the tax on the ballot this November, and on Sunday they celebrated.

“Give yourselves a round of applause,” said James Maiocco to the crowd. He’s one of the people who started the campaign. “We are well above our target.”

“It's shocking, I'm just so proud of these volunteers behind me,” he said.

The head tax sparked protests before city council's may vote.

And after, people on both sides continued to clash during the petition gathering. People on the "Bring Seattle Home" campaign, which supports the head tax, handed out "decline to sign" fliers where petitioners gathered signature, and at times, the back and forth got heated.

Now, the signatures are in.

While some are celebrating, others are frustrated.

“I think that's just ridiculous,” Hutson said.

You can bet both sides will keep fighting for their side to get your vote to keep or repeal Seattle's head tax.

“The campaign will continue,” Morris said.

Seattle spent $54 million on homelessness in 2017.

In 2018, Seattle plans to spend $71 million.

  • $30.9 million on shelter, hygiene and outreach
  • $22.4 million on permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing & diversion
  • $17.7 million on prevention, access and operations

If the head tax passes, it would add  $45 million for the effort to help people who are homeless in 2019.