vote_lede_template.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined other city officials and business and labor leaders today to encourage voters to approve a measure on the November ballot that would overhaul the city’s tax on businesses.

Proposition E seeks to install a gross receipts tax in San Francisco that would charge the annual revenue of a company rather than the city’s current 1.5 percent payroll tax, which charges companies for adding new employees.

The measure has the support of Lee and all 11 members of the city’s Board of Supervisors, which in July unanimously approved putting it on the ballot.

The mayor and several supervisors gathered for a news conference this afternoon to kick off the campaign in support of Proposition E.

“Consensus feels pretty good in this city,” Lee said, noting that both Steve Falk, president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, were also both on hand to support the proposal.

The business community has complained that the current payroll tax penalizes companies for hiring new employees. San Francisco is the only city in the state that levies a payroll tax, according to city officials.

“We can finally say we have a tax measure that is broad-based, fair and equitable and will create jobs,” Falk said.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said the measure will allow San Francisco “to compete on a level playing field” with other neighboring cities that are trying to attract companies.

The proposal, which will need the approval of a majority of voters, exempts businesses that have under $1 million in annual gross receipts.

The measure is being opposed by the Libertarian Party of San Francisco, which notes that it is expected to result in an increase of $28.5 million in annual revenue for the city.
In their ballot argument against the proposal, the opponents say that increase “is a an economic drain on the private sector that we cannot afford in hard times.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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