Seattle City Council temporarily shelves proposal to tax big businesses

Seattle City Council temporarily shelves proposal to tax big businesses

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council has temporarily shelved a proposal to tax big businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to halt deliberations was announced Thursday as it was flagged as a possible violation of a coronavirus emergency proclamation, restricting what public agencies can take up during the health crisis.

>>Councilmembers propose accelerating big business tax legislation to fund emergency coronavirus relief

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The tax on big businesses was originally introduced March 4 and was to take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

In a statement Thursday, Seattle Council President M. Lorena Gonzalez said in part, “As I have engaged in an independent dialogue with the City Attorney’s Office regarding the council’s consideration of these bills and as I have learned more about this legislative proposal, I have become increasingly concerned that the substance of these bills and the facts established in its legislative findings do not meet the high standard necessary to support a conclusion that the package as a whole is either ‘routine and necessary’ or sufficiently related to COVID-19 and the current public health crisis, as required by Proclamation 20-28.”

Kshama Sawant, one of the members who proposed the tax, called it a naked attempt to break the movement’s momentum and added the movement needed to be reescalated.

While the tax was initially going to be used for COVID-19 recovery efforts, it would stick around after the pandemic was over and be transitioned to affordable housing.