San Francisco proposes taxes on tech companies to fight homelessness, gentrification, gridlock

Lawmakers in San Francisco have proposed three new taxes that would target local technology companies and other large businesses to fund social initiatives, Wired reports.

The proposals come on the heels of the expiration of a 2011 measure that offered tax breaks to tech companies that established outposts in downtown San Francisco, and which has since been linked to the city's notoriously vast wealth gap and related increases in homelessness and gentrification.

The three proposed taxes are:

1. A surcharge for Uber and Lyft fares, totaling an increase of 1.5 to 3.25 percent per ride. Both companies have publicly backed the measure, which would be paid by riders rather than the companies. It is scheduled to appear on the November 2019 ballot.

2. An "IPO tax" increasing the amount paid on stock-based compensation. Though it is reportedly estimated to earn $100-200 million in its first two years, it would affect anyone paid in stock, not just newly public tech startups. Initially slated for a November vote, the measure is expected to be pushed to the March 2020 ballot, per the San Francisco Examiner.

3. A charge for companies based on how CEOs' salaries compare to employees'. Like the IPO tax, this measure, also scheduled for a March 2020 vote, would not necessarily have the largest impact on tech companies, since software engineers and other tech employees typically receive outsize salaries; other corporations such as banks would likely take a bigger hit, per Wired.

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