Would 'Amazon tax' make Seattle more affordable? | KUOW News and Information

Would 'Amazon tax' make Seattle more affordable?

Jul 5, 2017

Economic inequality is a top issue in this year's Seattle mayor’s race. On Wednesday, former Mayor Mike McGinn said he has a new tax plan to help fix that.

The first part seems designed to appeal to fiscal conservatives: “No increases in sales taxes by the city of Seattle. And Seattle property taxes would only increase with inflation," McGinn said. 

The second part of McGinn's plan could be called the Amazon tax. (Read the plan in full.)

The proposal calls for a head tax on bigger companies of $100 per employee and would exempt smaller companies (with 50 or fewer employees). McGinn also proposed an increase in the business and occupation tax for bigger companies. (The state Legislature just voted to cut the state rate on that.)

“I would ask corporations to pay,” McGinn said. “They're the ones enjoying such fabulous success. But with all the people come into town to work, that's one of the things that's driving up prices, and I think it's only fair to ask them to help share in the cost of dealing with the impacts of growth."

McGinn estimates all of this could generate $90 million to $120 million a year in revenue, depending on the size of the companies that would be subject to the new taxes. And he wants all of that revenue to pay for city priorities like affordable housing.     

McGinn says he also supports proposals by other candidates in the Seattle mayor's race to raise revenue, like a city income tax or a municipal bank.

But McGinn says these other revenue proposals may not be allowed under state law. (Read about an ill-fated attempt to impose a state income tax here.)