‘Amazon tax’ could slow Seattle’s construction boom

City imposes employer head count tax to fund affordable housing.

May 24, 2018 |
Seattle skyline

Seattle’s booming economy has worsened an acute housing shortage.

In response, the city council recently passed a new tax that will impose a levy on companies with annual revenues of $20 million of about $275 per full-time employee every year. The new so-called “Amazon tax” takes effect in January 2019, and is expected to raise almost $45 million a year for five years.

Roughly 60% of the revenue will help fund new affordable housing, and 40% will go toward emergency services for the homeless. Seattle leads the nation in crane count for major U.S. metros, but the new tax may throw cold water on the hot construction market.

The city is coping with a growing homeless population, and many supporters of the head tax argue that the growth of tech companies like Amazon has contributed to the problem. Highly paid tech workers have been buying homes at a rapid pace, with prices rising quickly.

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