Seattle City Council members are considering legislation that would tax the city's most profitable companies, like Amazon, to collect funds for 100,000 working-class households affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales introduced the bill in April before it was shelved for more than a month because of procedural complications during the COVID-19 lockdowns, but it has since resurfaced as city officials consider changes to its Police Department funding, according to the Seattle Times.
The Seatle Police Department received about $360 million in funding in 2019 and $306 million in 2020, the majority of which is spent on personnel, but residents and activists are calling on city leadership to cut that funding by at least 50 percent and redirect those funds elsewhere in the wake of George Floyd's death, the Times reported.
"Our intent is to achieve change, to use the tool that is the budget process to initiate that change," Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who chairs the council’s budget committee, said Wednesday. "We’re going to do this together with community organizations, especially Black-led community organizations."
Council Members held a budget hearing on Wednesday to discuss police and COVID-19 funding when the tax legislation called "Tax Amazon" was brought up again.
The legislation proposes a tax on Amazon and other large Seattle-based companies with annual payrolls of at least $7 million with the exception of nonprofits, grocery stores and government or educational employers. It aims to allocate $500 million a year starting in June 2020 to "help up to 100,000 working-class households" affected by COVID-19.
Amazon did not immediately respond to an inquiry from FOX Business.
The tax would also "fund social housing and the Green New Deal in order to address the city’s critical housing emergency and the climate crisis," Sawant wrote in an April press release. It would also raise funds for construction and renovation projects that could "create and support thousands of well-paying union jobs in the years ahead."
Sawant called the Tax Amazon bill "an immediate and a long-term lifeline to working-class households throughout the city."
"The tax will be paid by only the biggest corporations in Seattle, the ones whose wealth has soared in recent years as working people have struggled," she wrote in the release. "We will need a powerful movement to win the tax and fund emergency COVID-19 relief, affordable social housing, and the Green New Deal."