“Amazon Tax” bill is off the table — for now.

According to a memo issued today, Council President Lorena Gonzalez has decided that the payroll tax bill put forward by Council members Sawant and Morales does not meet the criteria for allowed Council actions under Governor Inslee’s proclamation modifying the terms of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) and Public Records Act (PRA). As such, the Council may not continue deliberations on it while the Governor’s proclamation remains in effect, and next Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting to discuss the bill has been cancelled.

Continue reading

Amazon posts earnings report

Amazon released its quarterly earnings report today: worldwide net sales increased 26% to $75.5 billion, but operating income decreased about 10% to $4 billion, and net income decreased 30% to $2.5 billion. Back in February I¬†wrote an article looking at what Amazon actually pays in income taxes, and delving a bit into the fundamentals of its business. With new numbers and an active effort in Seattle to impose a payroll tax on the company, let’s update those numbers.

Continue reading

Grim news on the city budget as revenue projections fall short

This afternoon Mayor Durkan and City Budget Director Ben Noble briefed the press on the city’s new projections for how the COVID-19 shutdown is affecting city revenues. This comes on the eve of a presentation to the City Council tomorrow morning on the same information as the Council begins considering a new $500 million payroll tax. Under their most likely scenario, revenues will fall around $210 million below budget. But in a more pessimistic outcome, the shortfall could increase to almost $300 million. Let’s dive into the details.

Continue reading

City-commissioned UW research report finds that the soda tax isn’t working

When the City Council passed its sweetened-beverage tax in 2017, it commissioned an ongoing study on the impact of that tax in reducing consumption of sugared beverages. Two months ago I reported that the UW team that landed the contract to do the study had yet to deliver a report on 2018 data. But today, the City auditor finally released that report. Its main finding: the soda tax had no effect on the amount of sweetened beverages consumed by low-income children and their parents.

Continue reading