Afternoon Fizz: The Truth About the "Head Tax"

By Erica C. Barnett July 29, 2009

Opponents of the so-called "head tax"—a $25-per-employee-tax, paid by employers, that pays for transportation projects—say it creates an unfair burden on businesses and will cause businesses to leave Seattle. (They also say it's too complicated to administer, a claim we debunked over here ).

According to the results of a records request by opponents of repealing the "head tax," the average annual cost of the tax is actually miniscule—$91 per year, per business, on average in 2008, and just $48 in 2007. That's the total amount businesses paid, on average, for an entire year—hardly the onerous tax burden opponents of the tax have claimed.

Because businesses vary in size, it's hard to say which industry is being most heavily impacted, on a per-employee basis, by the tax. However, it's worth noting that the tax exempts workers who don't drive alone to work—so the more employees you have that bus, walk, or bike to work, the less, on average, you have to pay.

Filed under
Show Comments