Twitter Tax Break May Finally Be Repealed

Uber, Lyft, and Chariot also face new taxes in a proposal put forward by Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Mid-Market (Evan Ducharme/2013 S.F. Examiner File Photo)

If Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s proposal succeeds, it’ll be a progressive dream come true: Uber, Lyft, Chariot, and Twitter could all be putting more money into the city come November.

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Peskin introduced a dual proposal tackling transportation network companies revenue and repealing the Twitter tax break, or Central Market Tax Exclusion. 

If supervisors approve placing the issue on the November ballot, voters can place a gross receipts tax on companies like Uber, Lyft, and Chariot. Such a tax is projected to bring up to $35 million annually, Peskin said to the board.

“The City has been very generous and welcomed private transportation companies to our streets with open arms, hoping to attract jobs,” Peskin said in a statement. “We’ve been successful in that effort, but our tax laws have not kept pace and have not recaptured the value of the investments we’ve made into incentivizing job growth.”

Though the Twitter tax break expires on May 20, 2019, the supervisors’ vote would immediately repeal it. Companies located mid-Market, like Twitter, do have to pay the city’s payroll taxes under the legislation. Supervisor Jane Kim sponsored the legislation in 2011 to keep companies in San Francisco and revitalize the area in the aftermath of the recession.

With the addition of new luxury hotels, restaurants, and office spaces, one could argue the initial legislation fulfilled its intention but amid increasing gentrification and displacement, Peskin said the tax has overstayed its welcome.

Peskin is also working to regulate dockless electric scooters that have excited and frustrated San Franciscans for the past few weeks. The scooters may not blow up to Uber and Twitter levels of use, but the city is clearly rethinking its previous tech strategies.

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