The issue is the way the city taxes businesses. Way back in the 1990s, the city had two types of tax -- a payroll tax and a gross receipts tax. The system was complicated, but essentially, companies paid a portion (about 1.5 percent) of payroll or gross receipts, whichever was higher. That made a certain amount of sense; since under California law, cities can't tax corporate income (profits), there's no simple way to enact a perfect local tax, but payroll and gross receipts are both rough approximations of the size of an company.
But in the late 1990s, a group of big corporations, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Chevron, Bechtel, the Gap, Levi Strauss, General Motors, Equity Office Properties, Eastman Kodak, Safeway, Charles Schwab, the Hearst Corporation, the Giants, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, the Shorenstein Company, and others filed a lawsuit to overturn the tax system. We called them the "Filthy 52." The gross receipts tax was unfair, they argued -- and in 2001, with only three dissenting votes, the Board of Supervisors settle the suit by repealing that part of the tax structure.
A lot of things drive me crazy (people making a left turn on 16th and Bryant at 5 p.m., backing up traffic for an entire block; people who get to park in the midde of the street on Sunday because the cops don't ticket churchgoers; politicians who say "I'll take a look at that" as a way to duck a question, dog owners who leave piles of shit in the middle of the sidewalk... don't get me started). But one of the worst, on top of my list, is the claim that wealthy people who think the rich don't pay enough taxes should just write the government a check.Read more »
San Francisco's treasurer, Jose Cisneros, usually operates out of the limelight, and he likes it that way. Most of what he does is about making sure the city's money comes in propertly and doesn't go out where it isn't supposed to. But now he's in the middle of a political battle not of his making, and he's taking some undeserved hits, including from the Mayor's Office.Read more »
San Franciscans love to share: our homes and workspaces, our cars and bikes, our tools and the road, and sometimes even our lovers. But in these tight economic times, we often want a little something for our efforts – a bit of cash to use the guestroom or car – and that tradeoff has now ballooned into something its advocates grandly label the “shareable economy.”Read more »
My first reaction to today’s news that the popular Millionaires Tax measure was merging with Gov. Jerry Brown’s broad-based tax measure was “What the fuck!?!?” Taxing millionaires had over two-thirds support in recent polls and seemed to clearly tap the tax-the-rich zeitgeist that animated and was amplified by the Occupy movement.Read more »