Tacoma courts Seattle tech companies and other businesses with ‘No Head Tax Here’ pitch


The city of Tacoma, Wash., has long envied the big concentration of tech companies to the north, and Seattle’s head tax is providing a new opening for Tacoma and Pierce County economic development officials to make their case.

Tacoma released the video above this past week following the Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote to enact a tax of $275 per employee per year on companies with more than $20 million in annual revenue in the city to fund programs to address homelessness, a compromise from the original $500 per employee plan.

Amazon and many other large companies spoke out against the tax, and a Seattle business coalition launched a campaign to repeal it.

In a simple and straightforward 30-second video, with dramatic music and waterfront vistas, Tacoma delivers its message in all caps: “NO HEAD TAX HERE … YOU’LL LIKE TACOMA … YOU’LL LIKE THE SOUTH SOUND … WE WELCOME JOBS … LOWER COST OF LIVING, HIGHER QUALITY OF LIFE … THE SOUTH SOUND IS THE PLACE FOR JOBS … WE’RE HERE FOR YOU.”

Tacoma is certainly being more aggressive than Bellevue, Wash., Seattle’s neighbor to the east. Its mayor, John Chelminiak, touted the city’s mantra, “Bellevue is open for business,” but also expressed concern in an interview with GeekWire over the message the tax sends about the broader Seattle metropolitan region.

Listen to our Week in Geek podcast below for more on the head tax and what comes next for Amazon and the region.

GeekWire’s Monica Nickelsburg also discussed the topic on KUOW’s Week in Review with host Bill Radke, Seattle Times opinion writer Melissa Santos and former Washington state attorney general Rob McKenna. Listen to that discussion here.


  • Seattle passes smaller ‘head tax’ on Amazon and other big companies after impassioned debate
  • Amazon responds to tax vote: Seattle’s ‘hostile approach and rhetoric … forces us to question our growth here’
  • Starbucks joins Amazon, lambasting Seattle’s new head tax on top-grossing companies
  • Redfin CEO breaks ranks with tech community in maverick response to ‘unreasonable’ Seattle tax
  • After Seattle passes ‘Amazon tax,’ mayor of neighboring city says ‘Bellevue is open for business’
  • March on Amazon HQ: Seattle housing activists demand ‘head tax’ on big business
  • How Amazon could end its Seattle tax battle and tackle one of the world’s biggest problems
  • Tech workers, labor unions, and housing advocates pack Seattle City Hall to debate tax on big business

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