Seattle City Council adopts payroll tax

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July 2020

Update: On July 17, 2020, the Seattle payroll tax became law after Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) returned the measure (CB 119810) without her signature.

Overview

The Seattle City Council on July 6 passed a bill (CB 119810) adopting a variable-rate ‘payroll expense tax’ based on the compensation paid to employees in Seattle. The tax applies to businesses with $7 million or more of payroll expense in the most recent calendar year and is based on employee compensation of at least $150,000. The bill, if signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), or if it becomes law without her signature or after a veto override, would apply from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2040.

The takeaway

The payroll expense tax, on final enactment, will have an impact on those conducting business in Seattle.  Businesses subject to the payroll expense tax should review documentation and data identifying the location where their employees are performing duties as part of determining both which employees are subject to the tax and what portion of such employees’ payroll may be subject to the tax.

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Peter Michalowski

State and Local Tax Leader, PwC US

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