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Seattle mayor signs business tax into law

KOMO FILE: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed Seattle's controversial business tax into law on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Photo: KOMO News File)

SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed Seattle's controversial business tax into law on Wednesday.

The tax will raise about $48 million a year – less than the original proposal of $75 million but more than the $40 million that Durkan had proposed.

The new business tax proposal will:

  • Tax large businesses about $275 per employee, per year for companies making more than $20 million.
  • Raise about $48 million a year for homeless services and affordable housing.
  • Begin Jan. 1, 2019 and expire in five years.
  • Exclude a payroll tax transition.

About two-thirds of the money collected will be spent on new housing. That includes nearly 600 affordable units. Another 300 will be staffed with permanent case worker support.

The rest of the money will be spent on more immediate needs including: rental subsidies for 300 units, 250 shelter beds and services to collect 570,000 pounds of garbage.

Approval of the bill came amid harsh criticism from both Amazon and Starbucks who slammed the city's ability to manage its spending and tackle the homeless crisis.

Republican State Sen. Mark Schoesler said Monday he's ready to introduce a bill in Olympia to repeal the tax.

"We sent a message from our state's largest city and largest county that we're going to have punitive taxes on job creators. That reflects poorly on my members in King County and our state as a whole," Sen. Schoesler told KOMO News on Monday night.

His legislation would ban a city from imposing a tax that's measured by employee wages, hours or the number of workers - which would include Seattle's business tax, since the bill would be retroactive to January of this year.

KOMO News is hosting a Town Hall on Seattle's new business tax on Thursday.

It will be streaming live at 7:30 p.m. on KOMONews.com and the KOMO News Facebook page.



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