SEATTLE - Seattle City Council members on Friday proposed a new business tax with the money going to programs that fight homelessness. The tax would apply to only 3 percent of Seattle businesses, those with gross receipts more than $20 million a year.
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The first two years, 2019-2021, it would be an employee head tax of 26 cents an hour-- about $500 per employee each year.
After that, there would be a payroll tax of 0.07 percent.
City Council Member Mike O'Brien is one of the architects of the tax plan. “In light of the continuing rising crisis around homelessness and housing, I think that's an appropriate level,” O'Brien said.
The new tax would raise $75 million; 75 percent would go for affordable housing, 20 percent for homelessness programs, the rest for administration and debt service.
Those programs include shelter and social services needed to help people get off the streets and stay off the streets.
Talk of the new tax worried Destiny Lund, owner of the Confectional in Pike Place Market. We first met her when she testified before the City Council on Tuesday and we met her again now that details of the plan are out.
“I do feel that the council did listen to us on Tuesday,” she said.
But even though small business will be exempt from the tax, they may not be exempt from the impact.
“Unfortunately, trickle-down is a reality, if they do have to cut back in ways whether it be jobs or buying things like my cheesecakes,” Lund said.
The Downtown Seattle Association opposes the tax plan.
“This council has lacked a strategy on homelessness. It's been incoherent, inconsistent and frankly ineffective,” said President Jon Scholes.
Scholes says the city should work with other agencies to create a countywide strategy to fight homelessness.
The council is scheduled to take a final vote on May 14.