Seattle city council election results could bring back an “Amazon tax”

The Amazon Spheres in downtown Seattle.
Enlarge / The Amazon Spheres in downtown Seattle.

400tmax / Getty

Amazon has suffered a setback in its personal yard as a number of candidates for Seattle’s City Council received election regardless of a $1.5 million marketing campaign by enterprise teams to defeat them. That included Kshama Sawant, an incumbent and socialist who has been a thorn in Amazon’s aspect lately. The vote was held final Tuesday, however the results solely grew to become clear in latest days.

The result’s vital for Amazon as a result of final 12 months Seattle’s city council handed a $275 per worker tax on giant employers. Amazon, Starbucks, and different giant Seattle companies blasted the legislation and funded a poll measure to overturn it. Facing the specter of having their legislation overturned by voters, the city council itself repealed the measure a month after it handed.

If enterprise teams had defeated pro-tax candidates in final week’s election, it will have made the city council very reluctant to contemplate taxing employers once more. Instead, the election results have emboldened supporters of an “Amazon tax.”

The most important race was in all probability the re-election of Sawant. Business teams spent $617,592 backing her opponent, Egan Orion, in response to a Seattle Times evaluation. But Sawant received anyway by a slender margin of 51.6 p.c to 48 p.c.

“I look forward to working with the new City Council to urgently pass a strong tax,” Sawant mentioned in a Saturday information convention. She envisions utilizing the proceeds to supply social providers—together with higher look after the homeless.

Housing scarcity drives backlash

Support for a tax on Amazon and different giant companies has grown as Seattle’s economic system has boomed. The development of Amazon, Microsoft, and different large firms has created a disaster within the Seattle housing market, as housing development has did not hold tempo with hovering demand. As a end result, younger individuals—even these with first rate incomes—have struggled to afford housing. Homelessness is a rising concern.

The apparent objection to taxing firms based mostly on their headcount is that it will discourage firms from hiring extra staff. In most cities, job creation is broadly considered as a optimistic. But issues look a bit completely different given Seattle’s dysfunctional housing market. Job creation will draw extra individuals to the area, worsening the world’s housing-affordability downside.

So one of the best ways for Amazon and different large Seattle companies to quell rising hostility could be to search out methods to reform the area’s housing legal guidelines to permit extra housing to be constructed. That would bring down rents within the area and restore the traditional guidelines of politics—the place creating jobs is broadly seen as factor.

Earlier this 12 months, Microsoft introduced that it was spending $500 million to advertise housing development within the Seattle space.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley firms are coping with an much more extreme case of the identical downside. Last week Apple introduced a $2.5 billion initiative to advertise inexpensive housing within the San Francisco Bay Area. Google and Facebook have every pledged to spend $1 billion on housing-related efforts.

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