STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — The Seattle City Council this week voted to repeal a tax on large businesses that would provide millions in funding for homeless housing, this less than a month after voting to pass it, and it is speculated it was to placate online retail giant Amazon and others corporate entities.
The so-called “head tax” was repealed on a 7-2 vote from the council Tuesday, reversing the unanimous vote to pass it on May 14.
Amazon, Starbucks and others subsequently started a campaign to put the tax up for a referendum in November.
The measure would have taxed 585 employers in the city $275 per employee per year, raising about $47 million annually to fund homeless housing projects, NPR reported Wednesday. Amazon would have paid about $12 million.
The Associated Press called the vote to repeal a “quick surrender” demonstrating the power of Amazon to sway governments at all levels against taxes. The move comes amid courting from other large cities, including Los Angeles, who hope to become the home of Amazon’s so-called “HQ2.”
Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO reported that after last month’s vote, Amazon responded with a statement opposing the vote, reading partly, “Amazon, Starbucks and others subsequently started a campaign to put the tax up for referendum in November.”
Amazon tweeted after Tuesday’s vote that it was “the right decision for the region’s economic prosperity. We are deeply committed to being part of the solution to end homlessness in Seattle and will continue to invest in local nonprofits […] that are making a difference on this important issue.”
One of the two councilwomen who voted against the repeal called a “cowardly betrayal of the needs of working people,” adding it is “capitulation and it’s a betrayal,” NPR said.
Councilwoman Lisa Herbold said she, like others, voted to repeal the tax because they would not be able to fight the Novermber referendum, claiming she voted “with a heavy heart.”
Someone shouted, “Gutless!” as she explained her reasoning Tuesday.
Company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in March surpassed Bill Gates as the world’s richest man with an estimated worth of $112 billion.