In 2018, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted 9-0 for a tax that would require companies whose annual revenue surpassed $20 million to pay the city $275 per employee per year. The tax money would then be used to combat homelessness in Seattle. In response, Starbucks Senior Vice President John Kelly released a statement: “There’s no reason why one of the wealthiest cities in the world should have children sleeping in cars. But the solution is not to funnel more money through a city council that has thus far failed to show it can spend it effectively.” Ultimately, Starbucks, Amazon, and other large Seattle-based companies mounted a campaign to put a tax-repeal referendum on the ballot. The controversy grew, and less than a month after unanimously approving the tax, the City Council voted 7-2 to repeal it.
Starbucks has been very public in its commitment to being socially responsible and a good citizen of the communities in which it operates, so how would customers react to the company not wanting to pay local taxes to support social initiatives?