San Francisco officials may consider tax on technology companies

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San Francisco officials are considering taxing technology companies after many people blame them for the city's rising rents and evictions. (KGO-TV)

San Francisco voters might be considering a tax on technology companies this November.

Some local leaders feel it's that industry that's caused the city's housing crisis and now they want money to fix it.

"We could look around San Francisco and see with our own eyes what is happening here in the city," Coalition on Homelessness Jennifer Friedenbach said.

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Many blame the technology industry for rising rents and evictions in San Francisco. "Out of the tens of thousands of employees that have come into the city during this five year tech boom, it's led to a housing crises," San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar said.

That's why Mar is proposing a 1.5 percent payroll tax, specifically on tech. "To require big tech companies to pay their fair share for the impacts on housing and homeless services in our city," he said.

They're some of the same companies that got a tax break a few years ago for moving into what was a run-down stretch of Market Street.
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Initially, they were accused of not doing enough. "I notice a lot more yuppies, I notice that when I panhandle, it's harder for me to get my food money," a homeless man named Khalil Keith said.

Twitter responded by opening the Neighbornest, a childcare and job skills center they say is a $3 million investment over four years and there are other efforts.
Lobbying group Technet favors more philanthropy, but calls the tax unprecedented. "I don't see any circumstance where we would support taking this particular industry and saying there's a tech tax that should be paid for being a tech company," Technet Vice President and General Counsel John Doherty said.

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Mar would only tax tech companies earning more than $1 million a year and he'd earmark the money for housing and homelessness.

It would need a two-thirds vote to pass in the general election. "If we think the numbers of people on the street is bad now, our prediction is that there's going to be a massive explosion unless there's a serious commitment by the city to address this crises," Friedenbach said.

Mar says he hasn't talked with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee about the proposed tax, but he doesn't have to. If that tax gets six votes at the the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, it goes straight to the November ballot.

The board could vote as soon as August 2.
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