The ‘Overpaid CEO Tax’ Will be on SF’s November Ballot
Tech companies are striking it rich during the coronavirus pandemic, while the working class is stuck in dire financial straits. But our dystopian Dickens-novel “Best of times, worst of times” phenomenon that has plagued San Francisco for years could change thanks to a piece of legislation just approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon. The Chronicle’s Dominic Fracassa reports that the board voted unanimously to place the “Overpaid Executive Tax” on the November 3 San Francisco ballot.
SF Board of Supes unanimously place @MattHaneySF and @HillaryRonen's "Overpaid Executive Tax" on the Nov ballot.
Background: https://t.co/7dpITVQShL pic.twitter.com/tuStLKYsvH
— Dominic Fracassa (@DominicFracassa) July 28, 2020
The city’s voters would still have to approve the bill, whose technical name is Tax on Businesses With Disproportionate Executive Pay, and was introduced in June by Supervisor Matt Haney. The bill itself calls for an extra .01% gross receipts tax on any company whose highest-paid executive makes 100 times more than their average employee, then 0.2% if they make 200 times more, and so on all the way up to a full 1% extra tax if the executive makes 1,000 times more. And hell yes, this does include stock option compensation too.
Big companies that can afford to pay their executives million-dollar salaries every year can afford to pay their fair share in taxes to help us recover. San Francisco has become one of the most unequal cities in the world. This is a targeted tax on big companies that can pay it.
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) July 28, 2020
“We know that there are big companies in our city that absolutely can pay their fair share. There are large companies who pay their executives multi-million dollar salaries at the same time as they short their own workers,” Haney said at a press conference in June. “Inequality in our city and in our country has skyrocketed over the last number of years. In the last 30 years, executive salaries in the U.S. have skyrocketed by 940 percent, while regular worker salaries have grown by just 11 percent.”
The Board of Sups just passed Overpaid Executive Tax (CEO tax) unanimously, w 10 sponsors, to Nov ballot!
It will raise up to $140 million annually, from companies that pay top execs over 100x their median worker, allowing SF to hire 100s of nurses, doctors, frontline responders
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) July 28, 2020
According to a Chronicle analysis from last June, the corporations that could have to pay the extra tax include Comcast, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Chipotle, Visa, Salesforce, Wells Fargo and Gap Inc.
Despite the enormously important presidential election in November, this is probably going to be a pretty light year for election flyers clogging up your mailbox. While there are six supervisor seats up for grabs, there won’t be as many ballot measures as usual, because COVID-19 has made signature-gathering all but impossible this year. But the SF supervisors just voted unanimously to put this one on the ballot, and you’d better believe that Ron Conway is coming after this measure with all of the mailings and political attack ads he can muster up.
While I fully support fighting income inequality, this needs to be at a larger scale than the city level to be effective. This is just going to make large companies move out of SF, and then the city will loose even more tax revenue that it desperately needs!
Think of large retail companies like Sephora that have tens of thousands of part time hourly workers, but contribute millions to the city in taxes. Why wouldn’t they just move to an office building in Oakland or San Mateo rather than pay an additional 1% tax on top of the already high SF city and payroll taxes. And then their hundreds of office workers and executives move with them, taking even more taxes just out of the city line.
Keep that tax revenue in the SF city borders and help fight wage inequality via larger systematic change! Raise the national minimum wage! Add Universal Basic Income on top of that!
I feel like those companies are sadly just going to convert more lower-wage employees to contractors (without benefits) so they don’t “count”. Talk about “the monkey’s paw”