Starbucks lashes out against Seattle over new big-business tax

The coffee giant accuses the city of flawed financial decision-making.

Starbucks is steamed over a new Seattle tax that will charge the city’s largest businesses to fund affordable housing and other anti-homelessness initiatives.

The tax, passed by the city council this week and scheduled to take effect in 2019, will charge businesses making at least $20 million per year about $275 per full-time worker annually. It would raise nearly $50 million each year to pay for affordable housing and other emergency services. Some 600 large employers in the city would be affected by the tax, according to the Associated Press.

Starbucks, in a statement to the council, questioned Seattle’s financial decision-making.

"This city continues to spend without reforming and fails without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside,” John Kelly, senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact at Starbucks, said in the statement. “If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a 5-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction. This city pays more attention to the desires of the owners of illegally parked RVs than families seeking emergency shelter.”

Amazon, which employs tens of thousands of people in Seattle, said in a statement that it remains “very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric towards larger businesses.”

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


In California, jobs are up, but traffic is down

The Bottom Line: Limited-service restaurants have not cut jobs in California, despite the $20 fast-food wage. But that doesn't mean it hasn't had an impact.


First-party catering emerges as a new frontier for restaurant tech

Tech Check: As catering booms, more tech companies are offering restaurants the tools to do it themselves.


Applebee's upgrades chicken sandwiches with new techniques and flavors

Behind the Menu: VP of Culinary Shannon Johnson introduced hand breading, a larger chicken breast and craveable flavor profiles to elevate the platform.


More from our partners