SF Moves to Echo 'Amazon Tax'

Measure to tax big businesses to fund homeless will be on the November ballot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2018 1:03 AM CDT
San Francisco Will Vote on Tax to Help Homeless
A man lies on the sidewalk beside a recyclable trash bin in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

San Francisco voters will decide in November whether to tax large businesses to pay for homeless and housing services, an issue that set off a battle in another West Coast city struggling with income inequality. The city elections department verified Monday that supporters had collected enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot. It would raise about $300 million a year—doubling what San Francisco spends on homelessness—for more shelter beds and housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so, the AP reports. The money would come from an average half-percent tax increase on companies' revenue above $50 million each year. "I think the city is really ready for this," said Christin Evans, a San Francisco small-business owner and one of three petitioners on the measure. "We have a lot of momentum behind us."

Homelessness is a major problem in San Francisco, as well as other cities on the West Coast with growing numbers of high-paying tech jobs that price lower-income residents out of a shrinking housing supply. San Francisco's new mayor, London Breed, vowed to clear the streets of its tent camps within a year of taking office. The companies could include Twitter, which declined to comment Monday. Other companies that could be affected, such as Uber, pharmaceutical distributor McKesson Corp., Google, Apple, and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment. Seattle leaders last month repealed a tax on large employers that was meant to fund homelessness services after Amazon pushed back.

(More San Francisco stories.)

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