Microsoft is urging lawmakers in Washington to increase the tax burden on itself and Amazon (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) to help pay for a new higher education fund. “The bill, which was introduced Monday by Rep. Drew Hansen and Rep. Gerry Pollet among others, “would pour about a billion dollars over the next four years into a ‘workforce education account,’ to be spent on more financial aid as well as more degree slots in high-demand subjects such as computer science, engineering and nursing,” The Seattle Times reports. Microsoft and Amazon would be the only two companies included in the highest tax bracket. From the report: The premise now is to put a surcharge on businesses that benefit the most from a highly skilled workforce. That means high-tech of course, as well as professional services firms. The bill proposes increasing the state business and occupation tax by 20 percent on about 40 categories of technical services, such as telecom, engineering, medical and finance. And by 33 percent on tech firms with more than $25 billion in annual revenue. But here’s where this goes off the charts, into politically unheard-of territory. It mandates a top rate, a whopping 67 percent business tax increase, for those “advanced computing businesses” with “worldwide gross revenue of more than one hundred billion dollars” per year. There are only two businesses headquartered here that fit that rarefied description. And one of them, Microsoft, is the tax’s biggest booster. But that other company that would also be most on the hook? Apparently it isn’t so thrilled to have been volunteered for civic duty by one of its chief rivals. “Amazon was surprised to be included in such a public ‘hey, let’s do this’ by Microsoft,” said Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, who said she heard that lament directly from an Amazon lobbyist. Added Pollet: “Amazon has groused in meetings down here that Microsoft is doing this mostly as a way of making Amazon look bad.”
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