Starbucks, Amazon Blast Seattle’s Tax Plan Targeting Large Employers

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 22: CEO Howard Schultz pauses while speaking during the Starbucks annual meeting of shareholders on March 22, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The 25th annual meeting will be the last for Schultz as CEO. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Starbucks took the Seattle City Council to task on Tuesday after Monday’s passage of a tax bill that will cost the coffee giant and other big businesses like Amazon millions.

The Council aims to generate an additional $47 million from the approximately 585 companies based in Seattle making over $20 million in annual revenue.

The tax plan, when signed into law, will help Seattle pay for homeless services and affordable housing projects.

John Kelly, Starbucks’s senior vice president overseeing the company’s Global Public Affairs & Social Impact division, blasted the bill in a statement.

“This City continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside. If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction,” Kelly said.

“This City pays more attention to the desires of the owners of illegally parked RVs than families seeking emergency shelter.”

Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon joined Starbucks in criticizing the tax proposal.

“The city does not have a revenue problem — it has a spending efficiency problem. We are highly uncertain whether the City Council’s anti-business positions or its spending inefficiency will change for the better,” Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener said in a statement on Monday.

The controversial “head tax” bill will likely be signed into law after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan warned he may veto an earlier version of the plan.

An earlier version of the bill would have taxed companies $540 for each employee.

No date has been set for signing the tax bill into law.


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