Seattle Chamber of Commerce won’t appeal city’s JumpStart tax decision

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce will not pursue its lawsuit against the city’s JumpStart tax initiative, after two years of opposing the payroll tax.

A lawsuit filed by the chamber in 2020 argued that the tax – which requires high-income companies to pay an annual tax on salaries over $ 150,000 – argued that the tax was unfairly and unlawfully imposed on people earning a living wage. After a King County court dismissed the lawsuit in 2021, the chamber appealed to an appeals court, which in June ruled it was an “appropriate” use of authority city ​​tax.

In a letter to members on Monday, President and CEO Rachel Smith said the chamber would drop the case after discussions with legal counsel, members and the chamber’s board of directors.

“We have decided that the chamber will not appeal this recent court decision. Ultimately, with two lower court rulings against us, it’s unlikely there will be a different outcome for this legal strategy in the Washington State Supreme Court — and no guarantee the court will even accept this. case,” the letter reads.

“Our top priority is defending our members and their employees – and we will continue to work tirelessly on major issues such as the City of Seattle budget, homelessness, public safety and affordability,” Smith added. Thursday.

The tax, passed by the Seattle City Council in 2020, requires companies with at least $7 million in annual payrolls to pay between 0.7% and 2.4% on wages and salaries paid to Seattle employees who earn at least $150,000 a year. The higher rate is applied only to salaries of at least $400,000 in companies with at least $1 billion in annual payroll.

In 2021, JumpStart brought the city $231 million in revenue, surpassing the city’s estimate of $200 million.

Council member Teresa Mosqueda, who defended the tax, celebrated the chamber’s decision not to appeal at a press conference Thursday to announce the real estate developments that will receive JumpStart funding.

“We can do this in perpetuity now for the life of JumpStart because those who opposed it have finally given up on their challenge and this week we see JumpStart continuing to be the law of the land,” Mosqueda said.

About $79 million in JumpStart revenue will go to 17 housing projects announced Thursday, helping to fund more than 1,700 affordable and supportive housing units across the city.

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