Seattle to debate big business tax to pay for budget deficit

SEATTLE -- The coronavirus crisis is causing major revenue shortfalls for cities across the country. Seattle is no exception.

Last week, the mayor announced tax revenues may be $300 million less than expected this year. On Wednesday, the city council's budget committee is meeting to debate proposals, including one from councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales to create a payroll tax on businesses that spend $7 million or more on annual payroll.

The 1.3 percent payroll tax could raise up to $500 million per year, according to Sawant and Morales. The two want to use $200 million for emergency coronavirus relief.

It is a renewed effort by Sawant to "tax Amazon" and other Seattle-area business that would impact roughly 800 companies, some of which are already seeking federal relief to make payroll and avoid layoffs throughout the early months of the outbreak.

This time, because it is tied to an emergency order, it would be exempt from public referendum if passed.

In an interview with Q13's Simone Del Rosario, Morales reacted to some of the main criticisms of the proposal and explained why she thinks the proposed revenue is even more critical now.