Hundreds of opponents and supporters of Seattle’s proposed employee head tax gathered outside City Hall before a committee meeting Wednesday morning.
This is one of the last chances the public will have to voice their opinions on the proposed tax.
A “misguided” plan, that’s how over 100 business leaders from Seattle-area companies, including Alaska Airlines, Expedia, and Tableau, called the proposed employee head tax in a letter to the Seattle City Council Tuesday.
The letter comes as the council’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee is set to meet about it Wednesday morning with protests expected. That will be preceded by a rally led by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, a lead proponent of the tax.
The letter was composed by the investors and CEOs from businesses starting from small startup-businesses to major corporations, some of which would not be immediately impacted under the proposed business tax.
“We oppose this approach, because of the message it sends to every business: if you are investing in growth, if you create too many jobs in Seattle, you will be punished,” the letter read. “Sending this message to entrepreneurs, investors, and job creators will cause far greater damage to Seattle’s growth prospects than the direct impact on the businesses being taxed.”
Heather Redman, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Flying Fish Partners, signed the letter because she is concerned the proposed head tax will cause businesses to go elsewhere.
“I fund a lot of startups, and I’ve been worried that if we enact something like this head tax, we will lose that new job creation engine that we’ve had and has been a great thing for the city for the last few years,” said Redman. “The next company that we want to start here may not start here. They may say Seattle is too expensive, Seattle is not business friendly.”
The city council says the head tax will mainly apply to businesses making over $20 million per year – about 3% in Seattle. Those businesses would pay 26 cents per hour, per employee working in the city. Building affordable housing will get 75% of the $75 million, with most of the remaining funds aimed at helping the homeless.
Leaders said in the letter that the head tax was not a solution or a strategic plan to address growth but would instead punish companies for creating jobs.
“This is like telling a classroom that the students who do the most homework will be singled out for detention,” the business leaders wrote.
The city council is warned to work with the business community to design “a plan that works for all groups.”
The Seattle City Council will hold 2 more public meetings on the head tax Wednesday and Friday in the council’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee.
If council members vote the legislation out of committee by Friday, the full council is set to vote on the tax Monday.