Seattle “Head Tax” Causing Clouds in the Coffee at Starbucks

Starbucks, like other major companies based in Seattle, opposes the proposed employee-hours tax.  The Company says the city should reform its homelessness programs and show results before it seeks more money — a message the company has sent before.

Starbucks spokesman John Kelly said the tax itself and what it would cost the company are beside the point. He claimed Wednesday not to know how much the coffee giant would pay under the proposal to raise $75 million a year to pay for more affordable housing and homelessness services.

Starbucks has more than 10,000 employees in Western Washington, including its corporate headquarters, but it did not disclose its workforce specifically in Seattle. Large employers would owe $500 per full-time employee in 2018 and 2019 under the proposed head tax or employee-hours tax.

Benjamin Romano of the Seattle Times wrote May 9, 2018 that a number of Seattle companies have lined up against the proposed Head Tax, aimed at addressing Seattle’s out-of-control homeless crisis.  It is easy to argue with the results of the City’s past efforts; one need not do more than simply stroll under the bridges, backroads and green areas to see the number tents, campers, motorhomes (is living in a motorhome still “homeless”?) to see that Seattle’s homeless situation is as bad as any in the Country.

However, I fear that multinational corporations have become so dominant in this City that they can dictate public policy and force political decisions on us despite what our elected officials decide is best.  Power in the hands of the few vs. the many is always a scary proposition.  I guess Boeing has probably pushed its way around here for years (note its exemption from the City B & O tax for out of state sales of tangible goods), but now the gang of Amazon and Starbucks together can probably have things go their way on this and many other issues.  Microsoft and Boeing are largely located outside of the City limits.  It would be “game over” if that wasn’t the case.

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