Amazon suspends construction in Seattle while the city considers a new per-employee tax

“Amazon is pausing the unprecedented spree of headquarters construction that transformed the city of Seattle over the last decade, suspending plans to add 7,000 to 8,000 jobs in 1 million square feet of new office space,” Brier Dudley reports for The Seattle Times. “The company informed architects and developers Tuesday that pending the outcome of a City Council vote on a new head tax, it is pausing construction of a 17-story tower and may sublease rather than occupy a skyscraper under construction at Rainier Square.”

“The company will also announce this year the location of its second headquarters elsewhere in North America. That project is partly intended to give the company options to expand in a more receptive community than Seattle, where the company has lost patience with a City Hall that’s increasingly hostile to large employers and Amazon in particular,” Dudley reports. “‘I can confirm that pending the outcome of the head tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning on our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is evaluating options to sublease all space in our recently leased Rainier Square building,’ Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener said in a statement this morning.”

“Amazon and much of the Seattle business community is strongly opposed to the City Council’s proposal to impose a per-employee tax of $500 per year. It would convert to a payroll tax in 2021 that would generate more than $75 million per year,” Dudley reports. “The tax is proposed as a way to make the city’s taxation more progressive, although business now pays about 60 percent of the city’s taxes and there are no proposals to reduce any of the city’s regressive taxes.”

“Council members could finalize the tax as soon as May 14,” Dudley reports. “A recent public hearing on the topic was rowdy, dominated by social-service providers, activists and others demanding the city ‘tax the rich’ and spend even more on social services.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Good for Amazon. Seattle politicians may be poised to learn some valuable lessons about supply and demand, who pays what and for what, what’s important and what isn’t, how much is too much, ripple effects, unintended consequences, and more. Or not. We’ll see.

Apple is certainly closely watching the Seattle City Council’s per-employee tax proposal as well.

Apple again expands downtown Seattle engineering center – April 17, 2018
Apple rumored to be taking big piece of Seattle-area office market in expansion – August 12, 2016
Apple buys machine-learning startup Turi for $200 million – August 6, 2016
Apple quietly buys Seattle firm to expand cloud offerings – November 4, 2014


  1. Hey Seattle….greedy little bunch of bastards eh? Keep biting the hand that feeds your city….they’ll leave to find a city that appreciates them…

    1. But seriously, last year, Amazon didn’t pay a penny in federal income taxes. Approx. half of Amazon workers make less than $28,500 a year – forcing many of them to rely on food stamps, nd Medicaid, and housing subsidized by my taxpayer dollars. Amazon needs to stop mooching off of the nanny state, pay its taxes, pay its workers and quit whining, blackmailing. And it should stop using its position of dominance to extort, you know, like Microsoft did against PC OEMs.

  2. Lived in Texas and have property in Washington State (98281). Summer in San Antonio is like living at the gates of hell. I used to like Austin, but it has grown an awful lot since I last spent much time there. You can have DFW, Houston and El Paso

    Seattle has become more expensive to live in than even the Bay Area and some of the tax is probably to mitigate the costs related to growth. I think the primary reasons Amazon is looking for HQ2 is that the situation in Seattle is just awful for new employees and secondly, it gives them more political clout in DC. The Chinese have been parking money in West Coast real estate for years and it has only been aggravated by growth in a Tech.

    Amazon is just throwing it’s weight around trying to influence the politics.

    As a side note Amazon HQ candidate Nashville voted down an extensive public transit program, because Bubba likes his Pickup Truck. Guess that just bumped them from the list, as Nashville is a smaller version of Atlanta- a thousand burbs in search of a center.

        1. Or it could be an invitation for the paranoid to vent their own bigoted generalisations?
          My son in law’s family in Savannah always call him bubba even tho’ his name is Rory and is always meant with affection.

      1. Yes, I was responding to an allusion that Amazon was coming to Tejas.

        The Bubba comment refers to Pickup Truck Drivin’, Gun Totin’ Gawd Fearin’, Fox News viewers who think there is nothing finer than a massive Pickup rolling down the road getting 12 MPG carrying nothing in the bed but air.

          1. BTW did I mention the BMW Z4 I got for the fiancé? It’s small….but only gets a few miles a gallon better than my Ford V8, plus no room for the beer cooler AND she gets upset when I mention painting a Confederate flag on the top to make it a true General Lee/Nazi mobile… 😉

            1. Traditionally, it is fiancé for male betrothed, fiancée for female. Many Americans don’t pay much attention to gender endings in language, so it may not matter, but I’d check with the prospective bride, just to be on the safe side.

            2. Got, and I have checked her many times on all sides, butt just to be safe, I’ll check her again tonight….or maybe early afternoon!

        1. If the truck bed is lined, empty Bud longnecks will be rolling around; if not there’ll be crushed Bull cans rattling around merrily. Ya gots t’ keep hydrated on them long hauls ‘cross the Panhandle

            1. Being from the Upper East Side of Texas (N.E.) where humidity is stifling (but not near as bad as Houston, or New Orleans, or Washington D.C. in August for that matter) I always had trepidations about going even further south for vacations but every Spring we would pack the kids up for a few days at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, whose water is supplied by the Comal River (which is created by an artesian well….) and at least a day each in San Antonio and Austin.

              One summer we decided to camp on the Guadelupe a few days before heading west to my cousin’s in Fredericksburg. After we got to her house all I could think of was a warm shower and some cold AC to finally sleep under when my cousin told me (of her 100 year old Victorian house) “we don’t have AC, but I’ll turn on the attic fan…”

              Remembering long nights of suffering as a kid at my grandparent house in Shreveport sweating under the oppression of high humidity/attic fan only, I sauntered off to lie close (but not next) to my then wife with nary a sheet over me. I awoke an hour later looking for anything to cover up with. Apparently the Hill Country’s soil doesn’t hold heat any better than Mueller’s case holds water 🙂 so as soon as the sun went down so did the temp and humidity. Very nice for June in Texas….

            2. I remember doing PT at 3:30 AM during the summer at Ft Sam Houston because the wet bulb heat stress was considered to put too great a risk of injury by doing 90 minutes of PT during daylight. It would be close to 90 and the humidity was high.

          1. What? Everybody knows Texans just throw empties out the window at anyone darker than us, extra points for glass bottles.

            Geeze, don’t you read anything besides Breitbart!!??


    1. Nashville doesn’t have the kind of population density to need or support an extensive public transit system. It will have a lot of suburban growth, like Atlanta, and that’s a good thing. Cramming people together in cities, like sardines in a can, promotes the spread of diseases, the worst of them being leftism.

      1. Nashville looks nothing like it did in the early 1980’s when I used to spend time there, stationed at Ft Campbell.
        Sprawl is not desireable and Nashville will need public transit later. By then it will be many times more difficult and expensive to set up.
        Bubba loves his Pickup.

  3. 17 stories = skyscraper?

    The issue isn’t taxation, it’s spending. Most are willing to pay for services they see as beneficial. It’s the out of control spending that causes feelings of resentment.

  4. “Elections should be held on April 16th- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.” — Thomas Sowell

    “The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.” — Thomas Sowell

    “In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected.” — Thomas Sowell

    “Some people say that taxes are the price we pay for civilization. But the runaway taxes of our time are the price we pay for being gullible.” — Thomas Sowell

    “People who thing that they are getting something for nothing, by having government provide what they would otherwise have to buy in the private market, are not only kidding themselves by ignoring the taxes that government has to take from them in order to give them the appearance of something for nothing.” — Thomas Sowell

    1. So, I would like to note that the majority of politicians in both parties have been complicit in deficit spending for decades. Tax and spend or tax cut and spend – the common word is “spend.” The primary difference between the two major political parties in the U.S. is where the spending is inflated – military or social programs.

      As a result of long-term deficit spending targeted across a wide array of programs, as well as an inability to make the tough and unpopular choices on Social Security and such, the American public has become used to “something for nothing.” Sooner or later, however, the bill must be paid.

      This is not a liberal or conservative issue. Neither end of the political spectrum has shown long-term, consistent restrain on spending. They just want to reduce someone else’s spending, not the part that is more important to their constituent base.

      The common interpretation of democracy, that it should always reflect the will of the majority of the people, is total hogwash. That will generally result in disaster if there is not a check-and-balance based on reality and logic. The Founding Fathers, in my opinion, did not necessarily reflect the will of the people in the initiation of the Revolutionary War or the formation of a strong federal government. But we now celebrate their wisdom, risks, and accomplishments. Along the same line, we need modern politicians to begin focusing on real solutions rather than inflating budgets and pandering for votes to extend their claim on political power.

      Hard and unpopular decisions must be made, but our current crop of politicians is incapable of the reasoned debate and compromise needed to effect such change.

      1. A bunch of gobbledygook, do you really think Repubs and Dems represent opposite ends of the political spectrum? Are you that dense? The GOP and the DNC are two wings of the same UniParty. That’s why they hate Trump so much. And since when did the Founders form “a strong federal government”? This is why it’s impossible to engage with the left, you can’t have a discussion with liars and distortion artists. To the decent liberals out their, anonymous creatures like this are why you get lumped in with the leftist psychos.

      2. Bezoz is worth 100 Bil. His company operates with the thinnest of margins yet “is thriving thanks to taxpayer dollars”. Should taxpayers terminate that Socialist program, he would have to try to compensate that loss of corporate welfare by jacking up his prices like a real Capitalist corporation (like Apple that makes money the real way) that it currently is not. He would then have to compete with genuine market forces.

        In response to MDN’s incendiary take, Seattle and perhaps more and more localities are simply attempting to recover the funds they use in the areas like food stamps and medical care for the 15% or so of Amazon’s workers who can’t live on Amazon’s slave wages and atrociously inferior benefits.

        Of course, the overly-wealthy Bezos himself could cover the Seattle tax. No one says he has to keep his welfare money.

    1. Anyone “taxed to death” must not have the money to buy any of Apple’s gadgets but I know that you probably own at last two. Knowing that you are an Apple devotee, this means that you either stole them or someone who felt sorry for your carcass stuck them into your casket.

  5. Try Franklin, TN. No state income taxes or death taxes. Moderate property taxes. Lots of expansion. Moderate climate. Great food scene. Lots of educated workers. And Amazon even has a warehouse in a neighboring county.

    Probably not liberal enough though.

    1. As an educated Apple user that you must be, you must know that a “death tax” has no legal bearing. The small portion of the wealth of a dead person is re-appropriated to slow down the creation of a selfish oligarchy run by wealthy clans.

  6. Way to go Seattle. Don’t let amazon extort anymore money out of you, Cops need to be paid, teachers need to be paid, roads need to be built and maintained, water has to be cleaned, let amazon prey on some suckers, like in Texas. You know texas the place with the build in the flood plain go ahead problem.

    Hell we know Texans aren’t to bright anyway, they keep electing a canadian to the senate, who won’t use his real given name to run for office, but he easily claims his opponent is not fairly running for the office while doing the same thing? well, come on, Texas is not known for its smarts just its oil and pollution. oh, yeah, and the fight they lost.


        1. You DO know we’re on an Apple forum, they being located in a state which almost always has drought because of piss-poor water management….right?

          Texas was under almost as severe a drought a few years ago as California was having only we have reservoirs. Yes, they were getting low and people were rationing water but that cycle happens every 20 years or so, although that last one was pretty severe until it was wiped out state wide in one month (May) and Texas has been in pretty good shape ever since (Panhandle hurting now but got a few inches yesterday)

          The state would be in even BETTER shape if they would finish getting the land to build another reservoir in NE area between Mt. Pleasant and Texarkana on the Sulphur (above Wright Patman) but many locals there are opposed. It’ll happen.

          Now, about a Memphian casting stones on Texas cities….
          Irony much??

          1. California does a lot with the water resources it has- more than a little of the food you eat comes from California Agriculture. Most of the water conservation methods Texas water authorities are implementing or looking at have already been used in the Golden State. Toilet to Tap is already in use in Orange County, Ca and Big Spring and Wichita Falls, Texas have done so as well.

            Tejas tried to steal water from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana via the Red River not that long ago. Oklahoma took it to the SCOTUS.

            Memphis sit on an artesian water supply that could sustain a much larger city and it has the Wolf River running through it and the Mississippi as it’s western boundary. Memphis should never run out of water, but every city in Texas has the potential.

            1. No, not every city. Many springs in the Hill country and East Texas has a large amount of rainfall that is captured.

              As far as stealing water, the Red River (which starts in Texas) was never stolen from via Lake Texoma according to the Corp of Engineers


              However, there was a court battle with the Feds (Bureau of Land Management) taking land along the Red that Texans wanted to keep


              California allows a HUGE percent of snowmelt runoff to go right into the sea and also steers much away from farmers to their towns. I know they have reasons for this but in reality they are too lazy to face facts, they need to recapture much of that runoff.

              And yes, I know Memphis has an adequate supply (although in the late 80s I recall the Mississippi being so low at Memphis one time all river traffic ceased), but that doesn’t make the city any more pleasant. The same could be said of Houston and Dallas (and Austin has become a real annoying politically correct hellhole) so I guess we can both point fingers at New Orleans!

    1. Feel free to stay away from the Lone Star State if you feel that way. We have plenty of people who like it the way it is and who vote for Ted. Amazon already has facilities here, and we welcome them to expand.

  7. Bottom line?
    Bezoz, the richest human on Earth, is throwing a temper tantrum like a baby that he is because a mere tiny portion of the US, Seattle, refuses to subsidize his operation, refusing to kowtow to his blackmail attempt. If he were an Apple user and stop using Android and quit his god-awful Kindle, I might give him some slack,…maybe.

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