retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Seattle Times writes that three trial lawyers have sued the city of Seattle, arguing that its recent special meeting and vote to repeal a “head tax” were essentially illegal because they took place without sufficient notification and public debate.

The “head tax” - $275 per employee per year, levied against the city’s largest businesses, including Amazon and Starbucks, which were not amused - was said to be designed to generate funds that would be earmarked the city’s homeless crisis.

However, within hours of the suit being filed, “ an anti-tax campaign submitted the required signatures for a citywide referendum asking voters to repeal the measure, if necessary.” The signatures were submitted about an hour before the deadline for getting on the November ballot.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the No Tax on Jobs Coalition decided today to file our nearly 46,000 petition signatures,” John Murray, a spokesman for the campaign, said in a statement. “Submitting the signatures ensures that we are on record regarding the jobs tax repeal. We remain committed to working together with the Mayor and the City Council on homeless and housing issues.”
KC's View:
If I’m reading the coverage right, the lawsuit isn’t likely to come to trial until sometime next year … at which point, the referendum already will have taken place.

The lawyers’ suit, which has been scheduled for trial in June 2019, seeks that each of the named city officials be fined and that the city bear all of their legal fees and costs, but it doesn’t ask that the council’s vote to repeal the head tax be invalidated.

I’m not a fan of this tax, and it sounds to me like its imposition had more to do with politicians who thought they could milk the companies who are responsible for creating jobs and building a tax base. I’m all in favor of figuring out how government and business can work together to solve a significant cultural problem … but this wasn’t the way to do it.