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Offbeat Seattle City Council votes to repeal 'head tax' weeks after enactment

01:31  13 june  2018
01:31  13 june  2018 Source:   reuters.com

Seattle poised to repeal new tax opposed by Amazon

  Seattle poised to repeal new tax opposed by Amazon Seattle leaders say they plan to repeal a tax on large companies like Amazon and Starbucks as they face mounting pressure from businesses. The quick surrender showed the power of Amazon to help rally opposition and aggressively push back on taxes at all levels of government, even in its affluent home city where the income gap is ever widening and lower-income workers are being priced out of housing. It has resulted in one of the highest homelessness rates in the U.S.

Seattle's city council, facing stiff opposition from the business establishment, voted on Tuesday to repeal a newly enacted "head tax" imposed on the city's largest companies, including Amazon.com, as a way of fighting an affordable housing crisis.

The 7-2 vote in favor of repeal, capping an acrimonious public hearing that was interrupted by chanting supporters of the tax, came as momentum was building against the measure at the ballot box.

Amazon, the city's largest employer, was at the forefront of a coalition of businesses running a well-financed campaign to place a repeal referendum on the ballot for the upcoming November elections.

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As passed on May 14, the measure would have levied a new tax of roughly 14 cents per employee per hour to raise $45 million over five years, with revenue earmarked to build more affordable housing and support services for the homeless.

The tax would have applied only to the largest companies by revenue, those grossing at least $20 million a year.

Sponsors of the tax said Seattle's biggest-earning businesses should bear some burden for easing a shortage of low-cost housing that those companies helped create by driving up real estate prices to the point where the working poor and many middle-class families could no longer afford to live in the city.

Opponents said they feared the measure would lead to an economic backlash.

Trump Is Said Ready to Pull U.S. From U.N.'s Human Rights Council .
<p>The decision would make good on a pledge to leave a body the White House has long accused of hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel, according to two sources.</p>Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m., said the sources, who asked not to be identified discussing a decision that hadn’t yet been made public.

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