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Seattle OKs Tax on Companies Like Amazon to Help Homeless

The Chicago Tribune (May 15, Le) reports that Seattle's largest employers will have to pay a new tax to help fund homeless services and affordable housing under a measure green-lit by city leaders.  The City Council unanimously passed a tax of about $275 per worker annually -- less than the $500 initially proposed -- on businesses making at least $20 million a year.  "The so-called 'head tax' would raise roughly $48 million a year to build new affordable housing units and provide emergency homeless services," states the newspaper. Amazon, Starbucks, and business groups criticized the decision after Monday's vote, calling it a tax on jobs and questioned whether Seattle officials were spending current resources effectively. Starbucks accused the city of spending without accountability. "If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a 5-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction," Starbucks' John Kelly said in a statement.

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