Seattle City Council repeals controversial tax on jobs

(Seattle, June 14, 2018) In a surprising move, the Seattle City Council voted on Tuesday, June 12, to repeal the tax on jobs it unanimously passed less than a month ago. The controversial tax would have required high-grossing Seattle businesses to pay $275 per FTE starting in 2019, and the revenue raised would have added $45 to $50 million to current city spending on homelessness and affordable housing.

The day prior to the vote, Mayor Durkan and seven councilmembers sent out a statement announcing reconsideration of the legislation in a special council meeting. In the statement, they cited the unpopularity of the tax and implicitly acknowledged the likely success of the repeal campaign, which was set to deliver twice as many signatures as needed to put the tax before voters in November. The Council voted 7-2 to repeal the tax, with councilmembers expressing their commitment to working at the regional and state level to find additional funding to address the homelessness crisis.

The Seattle Hotel Association and the Seattle Restaurant Alliance had opposed the tax on jobs and worked with members to bring attention to the negative impact this type of tax would have on the city’s economic vitality and on employment, particularly in labor-intensive hospitality businesses. Both organizations support a regional approach to addressing the complex regional problem of homelessness.

As hospitality industry employers, our members are proud to be able to provide a wide range of jobs from management and sales positions to low-barrier, entry-level jobs that offer hard-to-come-by opportunity to people with limited skills or education and to those who need a second chance in life.

Our members are also deeply invested in the success of the community and generous in supporting non-profits that are addressing the homelessness crisis. Earlier this year, SHA’s Evening of Hope gala and auction raised over $940,000 to help Mary’s Place provide housing and stability to women and families facing homelessness. This summer, a wide range of Seattle restaurants and other hospitality businesses are donating proceeds on August 8 as part of Pearl Jam’s “Banding Together to Fight Homelessness.” Learn more at pearljam.com/thehomeshows.

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