SF proposed ballot measure to tax large tech companies to fund homeless

File - In this Feb. 26, 2016, file photo, Angela Flax packs up her tent at an encampment along Division Street in San Francisco. Media outlets in San Francisco plan to saturate internet, broadcast and print publications this week with news stories about an issue that has stumped politicians and residents for decades: The city's homeless. Editors will concentrate media coverage on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, although news groups also plan stories throughout the week in an effort to inform residents and spur action. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — San Francisco Supervisor, Eric Mar, introduced a ballot measure on Tuesday that would impose a new tax on the biggest tech firms to pay for affordable housing and homeless services.

Mar said it is time for tech companies to “pay their fair share”.

The measure, which would tax tech companies with gross receipts and payroll of more than $1 million at 1.5 percent of their annual payroll, is expected to generate around $120 million a year, Mar stated.

The companies would be identified as technology firms according to the tax codes they submit to the city.

“After five years of rapid tech boom in San Francisco we are putting forward what we call a housing and homeless services impact tech tax to require big tech companies to pay their fair share for their impacts on housing and homeless services in this city”, Mar said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Mar announced the measure, which is co-sponsored by Supervisors, Aaron Peskin and David Campos, with the backing of community groups including San Francisco Rising, Jobs with Justice and the Coalition on Homelessness.

The measure targets the perception that an influx of well-paid tech workers as fueled rising housing costs and increased evictions in the city.

“All of our folks are facing displacement, and this is due in large part to the tech boom,” said Kung Feng, lead organizer for Jobs for Justice.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, said that evictions and high housing costs are a leading cause of homelessness in the city.

“Tech workers driving up the rent, that’s not the fault of tech workers, it is the fault of city governments for not capturing those funds coming in,” Friendenbach said. “In order to truly address homelessness in San Francisco, we need a susptainable revenue source, we need to get serious about it and in ordder to do that we need funding.”

The measure also contains a provision cutting the business registration fee for small businesses in half, a move that is expected to benefit around 75,000 companies with less than $1 million in revenue.

The measure will require six votes from members of the Board of Supervisors to get on to the November ballot and two-thirds majority support by voters to win approval.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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