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Councilmember Sawant Demands State Legislators Publicly Stand Against Any ‘Protect Bezos’ Ban on Taxing Big Business

Urges community members to keep building pressure

Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) today urged community members to continue to fight against the concerted big business drive to ban Seattle and other cities from enacting progressive taxation that could be used to address the deepening affordable housing crisis.

Earlier today, state legislators unveiled a new bill, HB 2948, which would give King County the authority to approve a payroll tax that could net a maximum of approximately $150 million per year for housing and services. 

Councilmember Sawant said while such funding would be welcome, it represents a fraction of the $450 million to $1.1 billion annual investment that is needed to adequately address today’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis, according to a January McKinsey & Company report.

While this bill, HB 2948, is completely inadequate for our needs, I welcome the possibility for King County big business taxes to fund housing and essential services. But let’s be clear: big business haven’t suddenly grown a conscience. What they want is ‘preemption’ – a ban on taxing Amazon and other major corporations. They see the Tax Amazon movement building momentum, and they are afraid,” Councilmember Sawant said, referring to business lobbyists who have publicly made it clear preemption is a top priority. A “preemption” amendment would limit or ban cities like Seattle from enacting their own progressive taxation on big business, in addition to any county revenues. 

“In the context of a dire housing crisis, any ban on taxes that protects the wealthy such as Jeff Bezos would be absolutely shameful. It’s only because of the strength of our movement, with activists having gathered thousands of petition signatures and protesting in Olympia against the threat of a ban, that we have so far held off the corporate power grab. We need to build even stronger pressure, to ensure we don’t see a selling out of working people by State Legislators.

“It is unacceptable that politicians, some of whom identify as progressives, are even considering a ‘Protect Bezos’ ban on taxing big business in the state that is ranked dead last among all states, with the most regressive tax system. I urge activists to keep fighting, and I urge the Democrats in Olympia to stand up to the wealthy, reject any rotten, closed-door deals, and declare publicly that you will oppose any ban or limit on local taxation of big business,” Sawant said.

Last week, Councilmember Sawant unveiled legislation to raise $300 million per year in taxes on Amazon and other big Seattle businesses in order to fund a major expansion of green-built, union-built, affordable social housing. She is expected to formally introduce her ordinance in the next couple of weeks.

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