Seattle OKs tax on companies like Amazon to help homeless

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s largest businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks will have to pay a new tax to help fund homeless services and affordable housing under a measure approved by city leaders.

The City Council on Monday unanimously passed a compromise plan that taxes businesses making at least $20 million in gross revenues about $275 per full-time worker each year — lower than the $500 per worker initially proposed. The so-called “head tax” would raise roughly $48 million a year to build new affordable housing units and provide emergency homeless services.

Amazon, Starbucks and other business groups harshly criticized the council’s decision after Monday’s vote.

But others including worker and church groups cheered the decision as a significant step toward building badly needed affordable housing.