Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for the 'Employee Hours Tax' Category

Aug 16 2009

Can the Employee Head Tax be Repealed Without Sacrificing Transportation Projects?

As you know, the City Council has begun discussing the possibility of repealing the employee head tax. Businesses whose annual gross income is greater than $80,000 are required to pay $25 for each employee who logs more than 1,920 hours per year and travels to work in a single occupancy vehicle. The tax is part of the Bridging the Gap Transportation (BTG) Levy, which voters passed in 2006. The levy amount was $365 million. Funds generated from BTG are to address more than 20 years of maintenance backlog for paving, sidewalks, bridge repair and the planting and pruning of trees. Over the 9 year duration of BTG, the employee head tax is projected to generate $51.5 million. Last year, it raised about $4.5 million. Relatively speaking, $4.5 million is not large when compared to the $365 million levy and I support repealing the tax in order to ease the financial burden on local business and simplify the process. I want to make sure these types of taxes actually decrease the public’s reliance on single occupancy vehicles, as well as create incentives and alternatives for employee travel. Many citizens are rightfully concerned about how pedestrian and bicycle projects will be impacted. Before I agree to the repeal, I must be convinced that these projects will not be left on the cutting room floor or be subject to long delays.

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