Voters in three cities approve tech taxes; targets include Amazon and Google

Google and Amazon will be paying higher taxes under measures approved by voters Tuesday.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Voters in three Bay Area cities — Mountain View, East Palo Alto and San Francisco — have all passed so-called “tech taxes.”

In East Palo Alto, voters approved Measure HH with 77% of the vote. The tax will be imposed on offices that are more than 25,000 square feet at $2.50 per square foot. It is expected to bring in $1.7 million a year.

At least 35%, or $560,000, would be spent on building low-income housing.
Up to 15%, or $240,000, would pay for the city’s costs related to the tax, and the rest would fund job training for residents.

Opponents said it will stop development in the city, while proponents said it will ensure that companies pay their fair share.

In Mountain View, Measure P received 69.2% of the vote, well over the 51% needed to pass. The updated business license tax will charge businesses with more than 5,000 employees, such as Google, $150 per employee. Google has 23,324 workers, which would amount to an annual fee of $3.3 million.

The tax may bring in $6 million per year, 80% of which will go to transportation projects.
Those projects include improving bike and pedestrian-friendly routes and funding the city’s free shuttle. It will also fund an underpass at Rengstorff Avenue that will go under the Caltrain tracks and Central Expressway. Another 10%, or $600,000, of the tax will be used for affordable housing.

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees would pay a base rate of $75, plus $5 or $10 per worker. Businesses with more than 1,000 employees would owe a $125 per-worker tax, while those with 50 to 500 would pay $75 and companies with 500 to 1,000 would pay $100.

San Francisco voters approved Proposition C, which will tax companies that bring in more than $50 million annually. It could bring in $250 to $300 million a year. Half of those funds will go toward housing, 25% to mental health and substance abuse services and the rest will go toward fighting homelessness.