Chamber CEO Lobbies Members to Oppose "Head Tax"

By Erica C. Barnett July 30, 2009

Phil Bussey, head of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to Chamber members today urging them to oppose the employee hours tax, AKA the "head tax." The tax costs employers $25 per employee for year, and exempts all employees who commute by any other method than driving to work alone. Mayor Greg Nickels and City Council members Richard Conlin and Tim Burgess have proposed repealing the tax.

The letter refers obliquely to "other interests" outside the business community who want the tax to remain in place—a reference, perhaps, to environmental groups that support the tax, which discourages driving alone.

In Seattle, we now have the opportunity to repeal a tax that hits squarely at businesses—small businesses in particular—and their historic role in job creation: the $25 per employee annual fee known as the employee hours tax, or "head tax."

While the repeal makes perfect sense to the business community, there is growing opposition from other interests who want it to remain in place. ....

Now we need you to speak up. We need to visibly demonstrate support for the repeal and for the elected officials who have taken this step to help our econimic recovery. If we don't do this, we run the risk of its failure and send a signal to our elected officials that we won't support them when they step out on our behalf.

As we reported yesterday, the actual impact of the tax on businesses, even small ones, is minimal—about $91, on average, per business per year.
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