The Real Deal New York

Defying Amazon’s opposition, Seattle has a new affordable housing head tax

The e-Commerce company is the largest company to call Seattle home, occupying nearly one-fifth of its office space
May 19, 2018 05:46PM

Jeff Bezos. (Credit from left: Max Pixel; DoD photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Seattle’s biggest employer is rethinking the city after its introduction of a new tax on employees.

The city introduced a $275 tax on each employee that companies must pay the city; the government in turn is allocated those funds to pay for affordably housing and services for homeless people, according to the Seattle Times.

The tax was reduced after businesses headquartered in the city, led by Amazon, opposed the move, which was initially supposed to charge companies $500 per employee. The smaller tax will now bring in $50 million to the city.

When the tax was first proposed Amazon, who has more than 45,000 employees in Seattle and holds an office portfolio of more than 8 million square feet in the city, responded by halting its plans for a new ground-up office tower and a sublease in a new skyscraper currently under construction, which were estimated to provide space for 7,000 more Amazon employees.

Once the lesser tax was adopted earlier this week, Amazon announced its new building, Block 18 (the company names all its buildings), was back on track, but the damage was done.

“We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here,” Drew Herdener, Amazon’s vice president of communications , told the Times.

Meanwhile, cities competing to be crowned the new location of Amazon’s second headquarters, voiced concern over the company’s response to local lawmakers’ proposal.

“I absolutely find it unacceptable to see politically threatening behavior as is occurring there,” Denver city council member Robin Kniech told the New York Times. Denver is one of 20 cities on Amazon’s shortlist of its HQ2. “It certainly doesn’t send a message that you expect to be a part of the community.”

The HQ2 competition generated debate among lawmakers nationally over whether or not to give Amazon tax breaks, after the company specifically requested incentives as part of its request for proposals. [Seattle Times]Erin Hudson