SF supervisors approve Twitter tax break

Twitter Logo 2011

April 5, 2011 6:47:02 PM PDT
Twitter is a done deal. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8 to 3 Tuesday to give the micro-blogging company a six-year break on the city's payroll tax on new hires. In exchange, Twitter backs off its threat to leave, relocates to the old San Francisco Furniture Mart, and perhaps revitalizes a long neglected stretch of Market Street.

Supervisor Jane Kim represents the neighborhood and sponsored the legislation, which was backed by Mayor Ed Lee. Lee calls the vote "a real step forward' in transforming the mid-Market corridor.

"They should give them a tax break. Hopefully bring some business down here," mid-Market area store owner Rami Keishk said.

The three supervisors who opposed the deal are Ross Mirkarimi, John Avalos and David Campos. Avalos says he believes companies should be socially responsible and pay their taxes, and that making exceptions sets a bad precedent.

"I believe businesses in San Francisco and around the country should be socially responsible and part of that is paying our taxes," Avalos said.

Blick Art Materials moved from Van Ness to mid-Market last August without tax incentives, but the store manager supports the Twitter deal.

"I think whatever it takes to get people down here," Blick Art Materials store manager Alex Braboy said.

Opponents have called the tax exclusion corporate welfare, but the measure's chief sponsor, Supervisor Jane Kim, said it's about transforming neglected parts of the city.

"If you want to come to an area that has been blighted, high vacancy rates, then yes, we'll give you a tax break. It's not a giveaway, it's a partnership with our businesses," she said.

Twitter plans to move from its current location on Folsom Street to the Market Street building in 2012 after improvements are made to the building.

This is far from the end of the discussion. There are two other proposals targeting stock options and the payroll tax and the mayor plans to convene a workgroup to look at broader business tax reform.

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