I don't really have an opinion on this tax as such. I'm all for better transit and etc and if this is what it takes to get that, then tally ho. But I think its sort of a shame that our political order obliges us to pursue adequate funding through such elaborate contraptions. And I think its also a bit of a shame that the logic of this tax (i.e. bus service employees are presumed to rely upon) echoes the logic of subscriber-based businesses - that payment should correspond directly to use.
I don't agree that downtown companies should pay more. Seattle has very strict commercial zoning laws, and thinks it is for the civic good that major employers be centralized downtown. Why punish then for following instructions?
Transportation is totally sufficient for all Seattle residents, so we don't need this tax nor the addition (it's not a replacement) of the HUGE property tax increase.
Employee hours tax makes it sound like you're taxing employees. Whether that's true or not (I can't really tell and you never addressed what that tax is, you just declare it is progressive) the optics and name will never let it pass politically.

And I agree with above, use taxes should be discouraged.
@1 It's Tim Eyeman's fault.
TL;DR your "history" part, but I can tell you that the old EHT wasn't worth having. It was too small to generate real revenue but was just enough of a hassle, or more accurately perceived hassle that it would have a negative effect on potential employers. It wasn't that it cost too much, or even that the paperwork was overly burdensome, it was that a company looking to move here would see the list of taxes and get scared off. I know that sounds ridiculous, but in real life every little tax (or potential tax, or even form) is scarier than the realities behind it. If it was generating significant income for the city, then yeah...we could debate it on the merits. As it was, it was just an annoyance and something that everyone else could play up as a reason not to put your business in Seattle. Business can be stupid like that.
I'm generally all for taxing the people responsible and dependent on transit, but this wasn't the way to do it. I hated having to file that EHT thing every year even though my company would be exempted and never had to pay a dime for it. I guess it still cost me in time to file and didn't give any benefit to me or the city in the process.
The sales tax is really an income tax.

The B&O tax is really an income tax.

And now this...another income tax.

Unleash the State Property Tax and make everyone pay for their fair share.

Per head taxes are regressive. Why does the author think they are progressive? Why not tax other factors of production that are not labor?
@9 She means progressive in that it's being paid by employers, you know, not actually progressive, but just makes her feel better. The author is redefining terms to suit whatever her argument happens to be. An amazingly sloppy editorial.
I'd mandate an Orca pass for all employees (at a reduced price). This would bring in money and personal participation. Sick of lardasses commuting in their small-dick vans, SUVs and trucks.
The University of Washington is Seattle's biggest employer and biggest opponent of the EHT proposal. Not sure how much clout they have with the City Council on this issue, if any. Anyone know?
This is bullshit. Tax the fucking cars.
What @2 said--taxing downtown businesses at a higher rate is, in essence, using the tax code to promote sprawl and driving, as no other location will be transit-accessible for as many employees. Also @13. I don't completely hate this tax, especially at a low enough level to avoid disincentivizing hiring, but it's weird how some progressives are really obsessed with it, especially given how little money it raises.

A tax code should tax stuff we want less of first (cars, CO2 emissions, cigarettes, large inheritances), then tax stuff we're neutral-ish about next (consumption, land ownership), and avoid taxing stuff we want more of (jobs) as much as possible. The fixation on this tax in progressive circles is weirdly out of proportion to its value.
@14 do we actually want or need more jobs? the employment rate is very high. more people and companies without end is not sustainable, especially at the pace its at.
@8 - Absolutely.

@2 - No, Randrop. Just ... No. There is nothing within shooting distance of "sufficient" about local transit.
Raindrop, not Randrop.
?????Are you joking?!

Maybe you should go explain the situation to a homeless person. I bet you can find one within 5 blocks of where you are sitting.
@15: what are you talking about? We're in the midst of a very slow recovery, and adding jobs at a historically slow level given the rate of economic growth. Forget the official unemployment rate; that ignores all the people who drop out of the workforce out of frustration. We're making basically no progress at all on improving the labor force participation rate since the recession (see here…), which is the real thing to watch. To say nothing of the millions of under-employed, part-timer who want more work, etc etc. We very badly need a great deal more work for people in this country.

There are some people who really dislike housing growth, either out of a weirdly over-the-top hatred for developers or a general dislike of tall buildings or apartment-dwellers and renters in the neighborhood, or just a general hatred of change. Some of these people turn this into a general "anti-growth" attitude, taking the position that people who need jobs shouldn't get them if it means they'll increase the need for more housing to be built in this area. Those are objectively shitty people, and we should ignore them summarily.
If you really want to understand our tax "system" look up Dillon's Rules. I work for a 15 employee company and the hours tax wasn't a big deal, I never heard the owner complain about it. What I want to see is one flat rate city wide to keep it simple. Whoever suggested that we have enough transit service doesn't ride transit during off peak hours.
@18 the majority of homeless camped under i-5 etc are unemployable due to mental illness and addiction issues. i know because i live and work next to homeless village that they place in the CD and work with them there and I have a brother with severe illness that lives on the street and has been in and out of all kinds of housing and Western.

Most working homeless have a problem with the price and availability of housing, which is not helped by the real estate boom.

The jobs we are currently adding downtown are either subsistence levle service work or highly specialized skills like programming, and some biz/sales and marketing related. Very few new jobs are available for the underemployed to move into to improve their situation. It would be better for a lot of reasons if job growth would be spread more evenly across the country and not highly clustered in a few areas
Most working homeless have a problem with the price and availability of housing, which is not helped by the real estate boom.

To be clear, are you claiming that housing would be more affordable if we were building less of it, in a time when demand is spiking? That's profoundly implausible. With sufficient scarcity, older housing can become just as expensive as the new luxury stuff. The building boom is necessary to prevent SF style price spikes, because the population is growing quickly. Seattle (and the region) aren't particularly dense; we've got lots of room to grow up.

Very few new jobs are available for the underemployed to move into to improve their situation.

This is utter nonsense. First of all, in addition to the unemployed and (not-counted-as-unemployed discouraged), there are well over six million Americans stuck in part-time jobs and looking for more, and the people filling the good paying jobs from elsewhere are creating openings for people who badly need them there. Finally, our subsistence level jobs are going to be better than those in the rest of the country because we embraced a minimum wage updates--I hope as many minimum wage earners as possible are making 12-15 and hour, not 7.25! You can't look at a job-scarce environment like the US, currently experiencing a generational low in labor market participation, and say that job growth isn't actually helping, because it's not exactly the right place, or the right jobs. The job growth patterns don't have to optimal to be desirable.

It would be better for a lot of reasons if job growth would be spread more evenly across the country and not highly clustered in a few areas

Assuming this is true (and there's a decent argument that it is), that's not relevant because preventing a job from being created in Seattle doesn't make it appear in Cleveland. We have no mechanism for making that happen, so it's not a relevant point.
I don't see a problem with this tax, though I would like to make it higher and then allow some breaks for allowing people to work from home or work alternative schedules (4 days/week, commuting during off peak hours, that sort of thing).

Start with the set tax amount, then discount a certain percent if over 50% of employees work from home or come in before/after rush hour. Adjust rates such that you actually raise enough money while allowing for folks who pitch in to gain a small benefit.

Then you sell this program as, "we need to fund transit, and we're helping creative businesses that have their own solutions". There, now it's "business friendly" without giving folks a free handjob.
As much as I support this proposal, I agree with @13 that it makes sense to tax the specific behavior that we want to see changed, that is, driving unfettered into Seattle just because somebody can do so.

To wit, I would say that congestion pricing is something to try.…

Tax people like a toll for coming *outside* of the city *into* the city during the day when the "price" for doing so is high (congestion, pollution, etc.). Specifically target the revenue for transportation and pedestrian initiatives. Offer rebates for low-income commuters.

Companies wouldn't be "taxed" directly, but smart ones would offer to possibly pick up some or all of the tab for their employees as an incentive to get good employees.

London has been doing it for more than ten years. They even have unexpected support:

"A Republican member of Congress told me last week that he recently was in London for the first time in a long while. 'Traveling was so much better,' he said. 'You can actually get around. That traffic-charging system they’ve got seems to be doing a lot of good.'”

Here's a review of their lessons learned:…
How about we force the mayor, every council member and all Metro administrators, like Kevin Desmond, to ride transit to and from work everyday?? They can stand in the rain waiting for their late bus and pile onto crowded buses like the rest of us.

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