taxes

Low taxes are bad for business

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The teachers at San Francisco's public schools are talking about going on strike. The contracts talks with the district are at an impasse. Things look bleak.

Well, they don't look as bleak as things in Philadelphia, but that's not really much in the way of good news.Read more »

The mayor's tech tax talks -- and the legacy of the "Filthy 52"

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Tech tax talks. I've always wanted to use that headline.

And of course, the meetings in the Mayor's Office on the city's business tax involve more than the tech folks -- but from what I hear, they dominated the discussion.

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.

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An absolute must-read on taxes (by Stephen King)

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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 »

Willie Brown's "friends" at airbnb

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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 »

Sharing economy and the city's share

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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 »

Millionaires Tax merger is a risk and opportunity

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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 »

The failure of Lee's business tax plan

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The Mayor’s Office and city finance officials are circulating drafts of a new business tax plan that would largely abolish the payroll tax and replace it with a levy on gross receipts.Read more »

Mark Zuckerberg will pay less tax than you

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Before we start talking about the Facebook Windfall and all the nice new tax dollars the company will pour into the state treasury, let me take a moment to put this in perspective. Read more »

Why the public thinks government is fat

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Polls from the PPIC are typically pretty accurate, so I have no reason to doubt the results of a recent one showing that a majority of Californnians still think government can be cut substantially without a reduction in services. It's hard to fathom; as Brian at Calitics notes,Read more »

Who will push progressive taxes in 2012?

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Mayor Ed Lee talked to the Examiner about his plans for the next year, and it's a lot of the usual political crap: I'm going to create jobs, I'm going to bring people together and promote civility, ho hum. But he did mention, briefly, the need to change the city's business tax, and here's how he put it:Read more »