Microsoft backs corporate tax to help the homeless in Seattle

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Microsoft logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft backed a bill that would impose a corporate tax to help the homeless in Seattle.
  • Amazon, Costco, Alaska Air, Expedia, Starbucks, and other corporations also backed the bill.
  • The revenue from the new tax would be earmarked for affordable housing, homelessness services, and public safety.

Microsoft joined several large Seattle-based corporations in backing a bill to help the homeless. The bill would impose a tax on big businesses and employees who make more than $150,000 per year. The income from the new tax would be earmarked specifically for affordable housing, homelessness services, and public safety. Amazon, Costco, Alaska Air, Expedia, and Starbucks were among the several companies that jointly backed the bill. Bloomberg first reported on the joint effort to back the bill.

The companies issued a statement that emphasized that a local solution should be used to address a local issue,

We think the most high impact way to contribute to meet those needs is in the form of a new business tax imposed at a reasonable level with accountability for results in homelessness and affordable housing." The company continued by saying, "We are encouraged by the effort in Olympia that would provide additional affordable housing and services to address the homelessness and public safety crisis but we believe it is critical that this legislation include a regional approach to address a regional issue.

The Washington State bill would allow King County to impose the taxes on companies. King County is the home to the headquarters of several major corporations, including Microsoft.

While several factors contribute to homelessness, the rising cost of housing plays a large factor. The income from the bill would help address that issue, along with other issues related to homelessness.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

11 Comments
  • This is an awesome socialist idea that will actually come to fruition.
  • I'm all about taxes for important services, but this doesn't get at the real issue: Coastal cities in the US don't have enough housing, period. Not just affordable housing, not just public housing. Housing. The problem is highly restrictive land use regulations at the very local level. Back when the White House cared about good public policy, the top economic adviser, Jason Furman, wrote at length about this. Also, plan lady Elizabeth Warren has a proposal to encourage local governments to ease their land use regulations, which is remarkable because it counters the lefty narrative of "gentrification" (which has it all backwards).
  • The problem is my view isn't a lack of housing, but affordable housing. People moving from the Bay Area to Seattle have caused prices to skyrocket. I certainly couldn't afford to buy a new house in the Seattle area, so I'm stuck where I am. People who were raised here like myself have been pried out of our own market by transplants from California. Just look at the license plates on all of the cars in the new neighborhoods, all from California, no Washington plates. No one who has lived here long term can afford anything. There are plenty of houses for sale, I don't believe it's an inventory problem.
  • It boils down to the same thing. The problem you're having up in Washington of California transplants raising prices is because we don't have enough inventory here in California. Less inventory = more competition, which means only those with higher incomes get the homes, and the rest of us get priced out. When we get priced out, we might go to places that where we can actually afford homes, which in turn raises your prices because our definition of affordable may be different. It's a chain reaction, but it all starts with there not being enough affordable housing in California, which starts with too much competition for too little supply here. I personally work in a modestly sized town on a pretty good income, and even I haven't been able to buy a home because the local government had restrictions on new housing forever. 90% of the homes I see come and go on the market are at least 30 years old, and commanding $350 per square foot right now.
  • This is happening in Denver as well.
  • There are about 30,000 vacant homes in Los Angeles, the city with the largest homeless population in the country. That number is thousands more than the number of homeless people in LA. The market has failed to "regulate itself" and since some landlords own multiple properties, they are comfortable with letting a few stay vacant so long as they don't have to drive the prices down.
  • They should hold off until they see what Sanders is going to do.
  • Why a tax that runs money through govt bureaucracy? Just join together and give, be philanthropic.
  • Simply put, because it's ridiculously easy for corporations to circumvent taxes. So yeah, the idea will be that these companies will pay more tax, but in reality they'll just use the same loopholes they do already to ensure they pay next to nothing.
  • Wow, this just seems so bizarre to me. If these companies really wanted to help, they would create a fund and send it to appropriate organizations. Creating a tax does nothing but force all businesses affected to account for a new tax (and avoid it) and introduce a bureaucracy that will take its own cut for 'costs' and risk the money not getting where it's needed. Sadly, this isn't about helping the homeless.
  • If it's based on a per employee rate, get ready for layoffs after a year or two. Will be the perfect excuse to shrink employment costs.