Small businesses in Seattle reeling from violence and draconian coronavirus lockdowns are now set to face yet another setback from the city’s leadership, which plans to institute what the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce is calling an “unconstitutional tax on the right to earn a living.”
In a new lawsuit against the city, the Chamber of Commerce states: “amid one of the most severe financial crises the City has ever experienced,” the Seattle City Council passed a bill that imposes a “payroll tax” on employing workers in the city all “while Seattle businesses reel from the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The bill in question was returned to the City Council “unsigned by the mayor” of Seattle and became “Ordinance 126109.”
According to the Westphalian Times, the suit alleges that “The Ordinance’s drafters carefully avoided the word ‘wages’ in nominally characterizing the Ordinance as imposing a tax on ‘every person engaging in business within Seattle.’… In substance and in truth, the Ordinance’s taxable incident is the right to earn a living — which the Washington Supreme Court has already ruled cities may not do.”
The Chamber of Commerce stated, “more than 200 stores and businesses have shut down permanently” due to the pandemic, due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, further arguing that “Adding a new tax on jobs creates another headwind that could prove fatal to the recovery of downtown Seattle and the local business community.”
The Chamber also alleged that “Instead of carefully evaluating the City’s spending and its $1 billion-plus general fund,” the council chose to rush “to pass a new illegal tax devoid of any spending accountability.”
“The tax is illegal, punitive, and fails to address the most pressing issues facing the City,” the lawsuit states. It argues that the city is pursuing a “punishment-driven strategy” that discourages investment in the city.