Just one week after the Seattle City Council announced its unanimous decision to introduce a head tax of $275 on for-profit companies that gross more than $20 million and are located in the city, Pierce County has countered with a plan of its own: We’ll give you $275 per employee.
During a press conference Tuesday at the Centeris Data Center in Puyallup, leaders of Tacoma and Pierce County announced the proposal that would give companies a one-time tax credit of at least $275 per employee for “businesses that create at least 5 new family-wage jobs – defined as paying $65K annually – in 2019.”
“We want to be loud and clear that Pierce County not only values, welcomes, and encourages family wage jobs, but that we see business as an important part of making Pierce County, and all of our cities, vibrant communities,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “With that, we saw an opportunity to unite on our policies that sent that message that specifically (incentivizes) the creation of jobs here in Pierce County.”
Implementation of this tax credit could look different for each city within the county, as cities will be asked to submit ordinances to their respective councils for consideration and votes. Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards added that Tacoma already has a myriad of tax incentives in place for businesses.
“While I am not proposing any new credits today, Tacoma has a history of incentivizing the creation of family-wage jobs, and businesses that create these types of jobs in Tacoma can already qualify for up to four different credits,” said Woodards. “These credits – which can total up to $1,500 per year – can be claimed for up to five years for each qualifying job created. Ultimately, as the Puget Sound region as a whole evolves and grows, Tacoma and Pierce County benefit. I will continue to pursue cooperative and collaborative strategies with other cities and counties throughout the area to ensure that the Puget Sound region remains a desirable place to start or grow a business.”
Representatives from several cities were present at today’s event.
As the cities of Pierce County endeavor to entice more companies to settle in the South Sound, affordable housing continues to be a problem. While this initiative won’t benefit new employees moving to the region from elsewhere, Dammeier said the initiative would greatly benefit current Pierce County residents who already own homes, creating closer jobs that would allow them to spend more time with their families, avoid long commutes, and enjoy all that the county has to offer.
“One of the challenges we are facing in our community right now is that the cost of housing is increasing at a very steep rate while our median wages are increasing only modestly,” said Dammeier. “That is one of the reasons this incentive is so strong. We want to give the people of Pierce County an opportunity to upgrade their jobs so they can have that quality of life. We have other discussions that we have to work on ahead of us and one of those is clearly housing affordability.”
This announcement follows a video published last week to the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page during which the words “No head tax here” and “South Sound is the place for jobs,” were played over shots of Tacoma.