RHAWA opposes Seattle employer head tax proposal

Posted By: Sean Martin (deleted) Advocacy,

Yesterday, RHAWA transmitted the following letter to Seattle City Council and the Mayor stating our opposition to the proposed head tax for funding initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness.

May 9, 2018

Seattle City Council
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Re: Employee head tax

Dear Councilmembers,

The Rental Housing Association of Washington represents more than 5,300 small, independent landlords across Washington State.

Our members live and work in the City of Seattle and are good neighbors providing a vital community benefit – locally-owned rental housing; the most organically affordable housing in the city. Small, independent landlords seek stable tenancies and tenant-retention thru keeping rents below market, and by giving opportunities to people who often would not qualify for corporately-owned housing.

As small business owners, our members rely upon a stable economic environment to ensure stable and successful tenancies. We oppose CB 119250 and encourage the Council to seek a regional approach by coordinating its work with the One Table effort.

Retaining affordable rental housing under local ownership is a critical component to preventing rental housing costs from rising higher, and for ensuring accessibility to housing for all.

How does a tax on jobs harm tenants in Seattle? Every property that our members sell means one more property that is no longer available as an affordable rental unit. A loss of employment due to a tax on jobs increases the likelihood that landlords will exit the industry to offset their financial risk, and that new landlords will not invest in the city. Both mean less rental housing – the most affordable housing solution.

RHAWA supported the City’s 2016 Housing Levy because it laid out a clear plan and was a societal solution to a societal problem. However, even with record revenues, including $700 million per year from business taxes for the general fund, the City's budget director warns that the City is facing deficits in 2019 and 2020.

We recognize the need for more affordable housing in the city, but taxing jobs and discouraging the development that has been funding the city budget is not the right solution. We ask that Council focuses its efforts and resources on systemic and sustainable solutions, and that you vote no on CB 119250.


Sean Martin,
Interim Executive Director, RHAWA