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Councilmember Sawant: Olympia Legislature Must Tax Big Business And Not Undermine Seattle’s Tax on Amazon and Other Big Businesses

Sawant to introduce a resolution to put the City of Seattle on record opposing any state effort to preempt, limit, or phase out Seattle’s Amazon Tax: ‘We need social housing and Green jobs for working people, not tax shelters for big business.’

SEATTLE – Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, today announced she is introducing a resolution calling on the Democrats in the State Legislature, who control both the state House and Senate, and occupy the Office of the Governor, to enact progressive taxation on big business and billionaires without undermining Seattle’s new Amazon Tax in the process.

“Washington State Democrats have presided over decades of inexcusable underfunding of education, housing, healthcare, jobs, and services. Now working people face compounding crises in the pandemic and recession. We desperately need statewide taxes on big business,” Sawant said. “That includes taxing capital gainsa wealth tax on billionaires, and taxing corporate payroll, as the Amazon Tax does.

“Shamefully, Democrats in Olympia have said they are looking at using statewide legislation to undermine Seattle’s Amazon Tax and shield the most profitable corporations and the wealthiest from taxes at a time when ordinary people are experiencing unprecedented suffering, on top of shouldering regressive taxes.. ”

“The Working Families Party has been a proud member of the grassroots Tax Amazon movement that won Seattle’s big business tax last year to fund COVID relief, affordable housing, and Green New Deal programs. We are deeply troubled to hear Olympia legislators even considering undermining what we won in Seattle. We call on them to push for urgently-needed statewide big business taxes AND declare publicly and unequivocally that they will oppose any undermining of Seattle’s big business tax,” said Working Families Party Board member and leader Mónica Mendoza-Castrejón.

Sawant announced she is introducing a resolution in City Council reiterating the City’s opposition to any state effort to limit or block the Amazon tax in the future. “It’s important that the City Council forcefully and decisively make it clear that state legislators go on record opposing all forms of preempting, limiting, or phasing out local progressive taxation,” Sawant said.

Last month, Crosscut.com reported that legislators might enact a tax on corporate payroll that also would “phase out the Seattle tax over time” or reduce Seattle’s payroll tax by the amount of the new state payroll tax,” thereby preempting and limiting the amount of progressive revenue that the City would be authorized to raise in the future. Legislators also were reported to be concerned that a statewide progressive big business tax would be a “double tax” on big businesses in Seattle.

“Our Local fought hard for the Amazon Tax / Jumpstart legislation, and will continue to fight to make sure it remains intact to support housing affordability and the needs of our community,” said Max Gray, UAW Local 4121 steward.  “We support the passage of additional high earners taxes statewide to fund critical state services and workers’ needs, but strongly oppose any measure that would concurrently weaken our Amazon payroll tax.”

“Any attempt by state legislators to preempt or limit our Amazon tax in the future is profoundly anti-democratic, and serves only the needs of corporations like Amazon, the executives and the politicians who serve them” Sawant noted. “Furthermore, their supposed concern about a ‘double tax’ on big business is rank hypocrisy. These same lawmakers have no problem subjecting working people to double and more than double taxation when it comes to regressive taxes like sales and property taxes.”

American billionaires like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have seen their profits soar during the pandemic. American billionaires’ net worth has increased by a staggering $1 Trillion since the start of the pandemic, a wealth increase of more than a third in just seven months. In the first six months since the pandemic struck, Amazon shareholders reaped a record $11.5 billion in profits, while 20,000 warehouse workers got sick with COVID and several died.

The Washington Post last fall reported that “America’s biggest companies are flourishing during the pandemic and putting thousands of people out of work.” Sawant noted that major companies with significant presence in Seattle besides Amazon, like F5 Networks, Starbucks, Salesforce, and Google all have reported high profits in 2020 while tens of thousands of working people in Seattle and tens of millions nationally have struggled to stay housed and get adequate food and medical care.

“Given the stunning gap between the billionaire class and working people, it is absolutely staggering that any state legislator would even be considering sheltering big business from local progressive taxation,” Sawant said. “We need social housing and Green jobs for working people, not tax shelters for big business. In addition to calling on the other City Councilmembers to support my resolution, I call on the state legislators to publicly disavow any effort to protect the mega-profits of big business by preempting, reducing, or phasing out our city’s Amazon Tax.”

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