San Francisco Revives Local Income Tax Plan

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By Joyce E. Cutler

San Francisco supervisors have revived a measure seeking state lawmakers’ approval to take a local corporate and personal income tax to a public vote.

Supervisors sent the resolution to committee late March 7. The bill, which was originally introduced without going through a committee, failed Feb. 28 on a 7-3 vote. Eight votes are needed for passage.

San Francisco is asking its state legislative delegation to amend Calif. Rev. & Tax. Code Section 17041.5 to allow localities to impose taxes with voter approval. If the Legislature approves such an amendment, any initiative could go to San Francisco voters in 2018.

With companies including Uber Technologies Inc., Twitter Inc., Inc., Gap Inc. and construction giant Bechtel Corp. headquartered in San Francisco, “there’s real wealth here,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin told Bloomberg BNA.

The resolution points to a spot bill about personal income tax by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D), a member of the Assembly Budget Committee and a former San Francisco assessor.

Menu of Tax Options

“Both a local income tax and a corporation tax are intended to be included in a menu of options San Francisco could avail itself of to generate sustainable progressive revenue to meet the City’s growth demands,” the city resolution said.

A 1 percent increase in the highest state tax bracket and proportional increases in lower tax brackets would have generated $270 million from personal income taxes collected within San Francisco in the 2013 tax year, “demonstrating that fractional additions to State taxation rates could provide a new and valuable revenue source for California cities,” the resolution said.

Precedent for a resolution like this exists. Peskin has pointed to a 2003 failed bill by then-Assemblymember and former San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno (D).

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in May 2016 tried and failed to get state lawmakers to change the tax code so the county could ask voters to tax personal annual incomes above $1 million to combat homelessness.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan C. Tuck at

For More Information

The resolution is at

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