Seattle City Council’s “Amazon Tax” another example of its narrow-minded agenda
OLYMPIA…In the wake of this week’s political rally in Seattle in support of a new tax on large employers, Sen. Mark Schoesler, Senate Republican Leader, offered the following statement:
“Jobs that large employers such as Amazon and Boeing create are critical to the survival of hardworking Washingtonians. The rogue and reckless taxing frenzy of the Seattle City Council threatens to undermine that survival by making it even less attractive to do business here,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville.
“Make no mistake…some are leading this narrow-minded agenda with nothing but their own political benefit in mind while companies that employ hundreds or thousands of Washingtonians make bottom-line decisions that may lead them to decide to open new plants or headquarters elsewhere in North America. If they do that, the jobs the Seattle City Council is taking for granted would go with them.
“If the goal is to reduce homelessness, perhaps we should take a closer look at how Seattle spends the money it already gets because clearly the efforts have been largely ineffective. The solution is not to threaten jobs with taxes, which would put even more people on the street.
“These types of taxing decisions are rightfully left to the state since it is in the best position to balance competing interests. We need to have enough funding to take care of the most vulnerable among us and provide jobs for our families. Both need to be a priority.
“In the coming session, I will make sure a bill is sponsored that outlaws taxes on businesses that are levied by local governments on a per-employee basis. This will ensure local politicians understand that the Washington Constitution provides that taxing authority is something that is granted by the state to local government authorities.”
Cities and other local jurisdictions do not have an inherent right to levy local taxes without the express delegation of taxing authority by either the Legislature or the Constitution. The Legislature can prohibit or restrict local governments, such as the Seattle City Council, from imposing local business taxes that are measured by the number of employees, employee hours or employee wages.
The state’s authority over local taxation includes the right to restrict local taxing authority. For example, state law currently prohibits local business taxes on the sale of motor vehicle fuel and insurance (RCW 48.14.020; 82.38.280).
In addition, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and other local employers also oppose the “Amazon Tax,” calling it a “tax on jobs.”