Less than a month after unanimously approving the head tax, several Seattle City Council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan released a joint statement on Monday that they were considering a repeal of the tax. The statement went on to say, “We heard you. This week, the City Council is moving forward with the consideration of legislation to repeal the current tax on large businesses to address the homelessness crisis.”
A meeting is scheduled for today, June 12, where Council President Bruce Harrell will sponsor legislation that repeals the head tax. The repeal appears to have enough votes as council members Sally Bagshaw, Debora Juarez, Rob Johnson, M. Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold, and Mike O’Brien were part of the joint statement with Mayor Durkan.
The council members not part of Monday’s statement were Teresa Mosqueda and Kshama Sawant. Mosqueda released a statement saying that she could not “back a repeal without a replacement strategy to house and shelter our neighbors experiencing homelessness.”
Back on May 14, the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to pass the tax of $275 per Seattle employee, per year, on Seattle businesses grossing at least $20 million annually. On May 16, Mayor Jenny Durkan then signed the bill into law. The tax is scheduled to take effect in 2019; raising $47 million per year through 2023 with the revenue set to fund affordable housing and homelessness services.
Following the passing of the head tax in May, a No Tax on Jobs coalition was formed and quickly garnered support from businesses. The group went on to receive contributions from Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan, and supermarket groups, among others, raising more than $350,000.
Coincidentally, today is also the day that the coalition plans to file a signed petition to qualify a referendum on the tax for the November ballot. The deadline to submit the signatures is Thursday.
Update (June 12, 2:30 PM): By a vote of 7-2, the Seattle City Council voted to repeal the head tax.