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Businesses The Almighty Buck United States

Seattle Repeals Tax That Upset Amazon (apnews.com) 334

Last month, the Seattle City Council introduced a new tax that would charge firms $275 per worker a year to fund homelessness outreach services and affordable housing. This greatly upset Amazon, Seattle's biggest private sector employer, which threatened to move jobs out of the city. Today, The Associated Press reports that Seattle leaders have repealed the tax on large companies such as Amazon and Starbucks after they fought the measure. From the report: The City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday to reverse a tax that it unanimously approved just a month ago to help provide services in the city. The Seattle region has one of the highest homelessness numbers in the U.S. Amazon, Starbucks and other businesses sharply criticized the tax as misguided. The online retailer, the city's largest employer, even temporarily halted construction planning on a new high-rise building near its Seattle headquarters in protest. Mayor Jenny Durkan and a majority of the council have said they scrapped the tax to avoid a costly political fight as a coalition of businesses moved to get a referendum overturning the tax on the November ballot.

Seattle Repeals Tax That Upset Amazon

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  • by chaffed ( 672859 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2018 @10:23PM (#56775060) Homepage

    The tax was poorly written. It was a tax on gross receipts over 21 million. This hit low margin businesses hard. Yeah sure, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Getty and the rest could have paid it. We have many regional businesses that would be hit very hard, likely leaving the city. We need to revisit it.

    • why not just fix it? Something stinks in Denmark.
      • Why not fix it? Because the politicians don't know how to.

        • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @12:13AM (#56775366)

          Why not fix it? Because the politicians don't know how to.

          No, that's not it. It's not complicated. "Fixing" it would mean actually recognizing that people who own and operate successful businesses aren't evil villains that should be torn down through taxes in order to subsidize (rather than fix) the problems that plague the cities in which they operate. They don't want to fix a bill like that (in the sense that rational people would consider it fixed). They think the bill didn't go far enough. So any movement the opposite direction is just caving in to Eeeeeevil Capitalists who should be treated like revenue dairy cows to throw some day-to-day cash at the social paradise of tent cities and rampant drug abuse.

          What they don't know how to do is to sufficiently hide what they're trying to do, so that the lawyers at Amazon can't see they're about to be punitively taxed for the sin of being successful and employing thousands and thousands of people.

          • people who own and operate successful businesses aren't evil villains

            Many of them are, though.

            According to recent studies thereâ(TM)s a high prevalence of psychopathy among high-level executives in a corporate environment: 4-8% compared with 1% in the general population.

            This makes sense, according to Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bryan Stolle because âoeitâ(TM)s an irrational act to start a companyâ.

            https://www.theguardian.com/te... [theguardian.com]

            • You...probably wouldn't wanna study politicians.

              They are congenial not because they are the most empathetic. In fact, the opposite is true. It is the shy folk who care what others think about them.

              Outgoing types don't care what you think about them. Shame runs low on these folk.

              This is why the common feature among top politicians is the abilitu to lie convincingly. There's no concern in there if caught, so they can look you right in the eye and tell you what you want to hear, so you will like it and get

          • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

            people who own and operate successful businesses aren't evil villains that should be torn down through taxes in order to subsidize (rather than fix) the problems that plague the cities in which they operate

            This is important. Societal issues which are caused by society should be fixed by society... not businesses.

            How does society pay to fix something? Taxes.

            So the point isn't that taxes are the problem, it's who bears the tax burden. The progressive structure of income tax places the highest burden of funding social programs on those who have benefited the most from their place in society. Business taxes don't just get passed to the rich owners and management, but also to the low-wage employees and low-inc

          • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @03:00PM (#56778760)

            if they are SUCCESSFUL, its entirely because of the infra that they received FOR FREE from america.

            therefore, they should pay their fair share; their success is based on the ability to do business here and not worry about electricity, workers strikes, invading wars, crime like africa has, etc.

            they are freeloaders and they NEED to pay their share.

            else, it will continue to fall on the poor and middle class. and we're fucking tired of paying for EVERYTHING in this country; while watching the land owners laugh all the way to the bank.

            amazon will not move. they know better. but our lawmakers, sigh, they only know how to accept suitcases of cash ;(

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        It cant be fixed. The total cost of looking after so many homeless people has to be covered by more tax on .....
        Whats going to be taxed next to what amount? Thats the only question.
        • "Not us, you ingrates," say businesses as they leave the city they're guilty of bringing jobs to.

          • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
            Much better parts of the USA will list their plus side to investors and innovative people:
            Low cost energy.
            Educated population who passed exams on merit.
            Fast ISP products and services ready to connect.
            Land ready to expand onto. Services are ready.
            Nice parts of a city ready for workers and owners to buy/rent in.
            That friendly welcome to people who work to create jobs.
            No "outreach" tax once a productive and creative brand grows.
            A city that will welcome and listen to investors. Not on ways to tax th
    • by luther349 ( 645380 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @03:23AM (#56775744)
      fixing it is removing it. its not on a business to support there massive homeless problem. maybe if they actually started housing rather then take those billions they get to do so and buy themselves all new privet jets.
    • You mean it doesn't make sense to combat homelessness by creating incentives for companies to leave town? One might think that the payroll taxes would be enough.

      Or maybe Seattle could divert some of that public art funding towards the homeless?

    • This hit low margin businesses hard.

      There are a lot of fixed costs that apply to businesses - rent, property taxes, wages, materials... A business that can't cover its fixed costs and make a decent margin isn't a business, it's simply a poor choice of how to make use of the associated labour and capital.

      • by Fringe ( 6096 )

        Grocery stores are all low-margin businesses. Your view, that if a business can't afford to pay the tax, they shouldn't be in business, sounds like the petulant socialists here (Seattle.) You should WANT jobs and businesses, rather than making it harder for them or pushing them over into Bellevue, Renton and Lynnwood.

  • Taxes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ramley ( 1168049 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2018 @10:31PM (#56775086)

    It just goes to show you... in my many years of watching thing like this (and also from the accurately described observations of Milton Friedman), when you raise taxes, people (etc.) leave. Ultimately it spirals downward where there is less tax revenue, so taxes need to be raised more (or something needs to happen).

    Look at the inversion which happened over time, as corporations (evil or not) moved their headquarters to other countries where the tax rate was competitive and much lower than here. Then look at what happened when the corporate tax rate was lowered.

    This same thing is happening in other cities with higher tax rates, or ways that the municipality gets your money (via regulations, ridiculous fines, and so on). People will look to move to a place that doesn't nickel and dime them to death. This (obviously) isn't true for everyone, but it tends to lower the tax base if it goes on long enough and taxes, et. al., continue to increase.

    Although what I am saying may not be popular, it tends to be true. Please don't blame the messenger.

    • what needs to happen is them actually building housing and bringing prices down. there housing rates are outright criminal. why because there is a massive housing shortage so any housing that people have are targeted to your very rich tech sector type. they raise billions for there so called homeless projects and nothing is ever built.
    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @12:33PM (#56777766)
      which is an extension of trickle down economics.

      Yes, there is a point where people leave. But there's also a point where required services crumble and people leave. Settle is nowhere near the former. Neither is most of California. What's driving people out isn't taxes, it's the cost of housing.

      What you're saying isn't popular because, well, it's made up poppycock that originates with right wing think tanks trying to get low taxes for the billionaires that fund them.

      The biggest growth in American history was at a time when the top marginal rate was 90% for Pete's sake. If you want the economy to grow you've got to Invest in America (remember that slogan?). We need healthcare for all so our people can be productive and infrastructure they can use to get to and do work. We need schools for them to learn too (or we need to import more H1-Bs, that works too).

      In short, if we want a functional civilization we have to pay for it. Civilization's like any other nice club. You have to pay your dues.
    • Re:Taxes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @12:48PM (#56777860)

      when you raise taxes, people (etc.) leave

      The problem with these observations is they don't quite fit reality.

      If this overly-simplistic observation was true, CA would be losing population. It isn't. It's one of the fastest-growing states in the country. New York City would be losing population and lower-tax upstate NY would be gaining it. The opposite is happening. Kansas would be getting flooded with people moving in, thanks to the huge tax cuts Brownback passed. Instead, it's hemorrhaging people.

      So like almost everything in reality, it's quite a bit more complicated than a short statement can encapsulate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2018 @10:41PM (#56775118)

    Government needs to A) GET OUT OF THE WAY, and B) Actually support industry.

  • Duh. (Score:2, Troll)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )

    Cities all over the country are climbing over each other to get Amazon's new building, but the quasi-Marxist city council of Seattle are too stupid to see that companies already paying a shit-ton of taxes don't like to be milked even further.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:03AM (#56775488)

    A lot of hate on what just happened here in Seattle, wonder how many left leaning people are not from here.

    I have compassion, and I don't mind paying more to help, but some people just like it the way it is and aren't willing to go in to permanent housing

    They keep asking for money and there is no plan, no accountability

    Even the last mayor was winging it

    Seattle hired this consultant named Barbara Poppe

    And she had some solutions and they didn't include taxing more. From the article above there is this section
    "But Seattle was slow to act, which echoes what Poppe warned about in 2016 when she told the city “you’re much more inclined toward discussion and planning and process that goes on and on and on.”"

    Which feels like "paralysis by analysis" but I can't help but feel it is more sinister then that

    You make Seattle a great place to come to if you are homeless
    Safe Injection Site

    Need more how about free heroin

    That will make the place grow with voters that are willing to vote left or socialist. Keeping these politicians in power.

    Take that tax money and feed to homelessness machine

    So you get all these out of town homeless people, and of course crime goes up

    Maybe you think I am just some AC posting random links found on the internet supporting a view, but from what I have seen over the past few years, I can tell you I hate going to downtown Seattle. My compassion has reached its limits. I still want to help people willing to help themselves, the rest... they can go to another area.

    • by nasch ( 598556 )
      The one thing you didn't post is the rate of voting by homeless people.

      the National Coalition for the Homeless estimated in 2012 that "only one-tenth of unhoused persons actually exercise the right to vote".

      https://www.theguardian.com/us... [theguardian.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @01:33AM (#56775540)

    We have gotten VERY far away from the basic principles this nation was founded upon. We are now in a place where the political class sees a problem and decides upon a solution THEY want, and then need to grab the money from SOMEBODY... ANYBODY (well, anybody ELSE that is). They make no real effort to solve a problem in a cost-effective way, nor any effort to undo piles of their previous bad actions that may have contributed to causing the new problem. They also give little concern to where they might have gotten the RIGHT to just grab somebody else's cash. They simply decicde on an amount of cash they need and then go looking for a targeted group who has that much cash and who they think will be unable to resist them politically.

    By what right do these thugs take money from entity A and transfer it to entity B for the benefit of entity B?

    This is NOT the model the nation was founded upon. The government is indeed given the power to tax for the GENERAL welfare (things that are there for everybody, like national defense, national parks, the courts, etc). This is a different thing; this is taking money from one person (or a legal entity that is incorporated and is therefore a legal person) and using it for the specific welfare of another person or a group of specific persons. This is just grubby armed robbery.

    As a practical matter, it would cost the taxpayers a lot less to simply stop all the bad government behaviors that lead to such homelessness problems. There is no reason why a home today should cost more than a come 50 years ago. There are many more government regulations which have driven-up the costs to build homes, and driven up the costs to employ people, taken more out of people's paychecks (making it harder to buy a home) and so forth. Even basic inflation is an artifact of government, though that one is certainly not a local government issue. We have had many decades of politicians claiming they were doing all sorts of good by heaping rules and regulations and taxes on to the backs of the people and businesses and there has been very little consideration to all the burdens this places on sectors of the economy. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the increases in taxes, no matter how severe, cannot outpace the increases in damage done by these very same politicians.

  • Whilst I agree that these mega corporations should pay more tax, it seems a bit odd that they are being directly targeted with a homelessness tax proportional to their workforce. Kind of like when councils use motorists as the cash cow to fund their pet projects/pensions.
  • by The Cynical Critic ( 1294574 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @02:45AM (#56775670)
    Like always, taxes on corporations are much harder to make stick than taxes on individuals. Mark my words, this tax will be back, just with the difference that it'll be off the bottom line of workers, not the companies they work for and companies (obviously) won't increase salaries to compensate.
    • by Fringe ( 6096 )

      Under normal conditions, you might be right. But Seattle ain't normal. "Individuals" are so heavily taxed in Seattle that they have to get creative. Hence this, and a pseudo-income-tax that wasn't, that both happened this last year.

      Washington State can't have an income tax, but the property tax is extremely high. There's a high-ish sales tax. Refinancing an average property results in over $15K of state taxes. Seattle has a high "soda tax"... which Costco protests on their pricing placards. Seattle a

  • by thedarb ( 181754 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @05:31AM (#56775996) Homepage

    Had it gone to referendum, I'd have voted to keep it and let Seattle die. I'll take Bellevue over Seattle, for all kinds of reasons.

  • SoftMicroBuckStarAmazonVille

    Like any other third world municipality, it's run for strictly for the benefit of the moneyed elite. Not that they're alone in this. Every city crawling on it's belly to get the new Amazon HQ2 is right behind them. So is every city that subsidizes billionaire owned Major League Sports teams with tax breaks and stadiums that will never recover the investment made at the public's expense.

    Remember it's not your world, it belongs to someone else, and you have to pay them for the p

  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @10:02AM (#56776794)

    Whereas it's not a 100% fix, a good 90% of the "homeless" are there because of heroin addiction. Legalize the drug, register addicts, dispense pharmaceutical grade product in a clinical environment, eliminate the black market, clean up the streets. There's probably two solutions, the Amsterdam model or Mao's model.

    Clean up the vicious opiate addiction cycle and the majority of the homelessness goes away. What's left is easily manageable with current resources.

    • by suman28 ( 558822 )
      The great problem with your statement, which has been proven in other cities, is legalizing this does *NOT* get rid of the black market.
      Look at the legalized POT market studies on its effects on the black market.
      if anything, the black market is now stronger.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Think of the loss of overtime for the police. The more empty legal system. The prisons and jails not getting to stay at 90% to 100%. No more DEA and city/state funded task forces. The meetings in distant parts of the USA for a week to talk about new ideas in law enforcement every year.

      All that gets replaced by a city working with a new low cost clinical environment.
      Where will that police budget go if the overtime is not needed?
      Wont someone think of the decades of overtime at risk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Many heroin addicts started out as legitimate opioid users, whose supply was cut off as part of "reducing the opiod epidemic". The safer, less potent pharmaceutical types (Oxycodone, Vicodin) are more expensive on the black market than heroin. People turn to heroin because it's cheap - try legalizing the schedule II stuff first and see where that leads.

  • by devloop ( 983641 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2018 @12:35PM (#56777784)
    Seattle already spends more than a billion dollars on "solving the homeless crisis": https://www.bizjournals.com/se... [bizjournals.com]
    This is on an estimated homeless population of roughly 12,000 individuals: https://www.seattletimes.com/s... [seattletimes.com]
    This works out to around $88,000 a year per individual. Let that sink in for a second.
    Their government is ineffective and inept, giving them more money to waste is not a practical solution.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll