Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman weighed in on Seattle’s controversial new head tax Tuesday, offering a sober perspective amid vitriolic responses to the legislation. He explained why Redfin didn’t join a petition to block the proposal even though he thinks the head tax is “unreasonable,” and he offered an alternative approach in a blog post.
Kelman doesn’t support the $275-per-employee tax that will be levied on companies with more than $20 million in revenue each year, but he recognizes that industry hasn’t given the city many options. He says business should be willing to “step up” and fund programs to fight homelessness if necessary but taxes should be a last resort. Kelman believes Seattle’s widespread single-family zoning is a bigger barrier to addressing homelessness than a lack of funding for city programs.
“Simply opposing every tax won’t work,” he said in the blog post. “Before Redfin was asked to sign this year’s anti-tax petition, we were asked to sign another, opposing a state-wide income tax on wealthy folks in 2010. The business community also fought the city on a legally dubious income tax in 2016. We did not join either of those efforts. Redfin’s execs feel that now that the business community has blocked a reasonable statewide tax, we can’t be surprised the city is proposing unreasonable taxes instead.”