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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twitter Tax Break Sails Through, Corporate Blackmail Does Work

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 4:25 PM

click to enlarge A done deal
  • A done deal

As Supervisor John Avalos so bluntly put it: "The big boys won out today."

Needless to say, Avalos ain't happy that his fellow supervisors approved a controversial tax-break deal that would surely keep Twitter from bolting San Francisco. 

SF Weekly previously reported on the deal, which would give the microblogging giant a six-year holiday on payroll taxes. In exchange, the company would have to move its offices in the dilapidated Mid-Market area, which is now overrun with liquor stores and strip clubs.

A recent report from the budget analyst shows that by keeping Twitter, the city could realize as much as $54 million over 20 years -- even with the tax break in place.

Still, the progressive supes were uncomfortable with the legislation, and all three of them -- Ross Mirkarimi, David Campos, and Avalos -- voted against giving Twitter the break.

As we've noted before, this business-friendly deal signaled an alarmingly clear shift in San Francisco's leadership at City Hall, with the left-leaning progressives officially fading into the political background.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who had run on a progressive platform, rolled out the more moderate legislation, which wasn't far from what former Mayor Gavin Newsom had failed to push through last year. His measure was blocked by the progressive majority on the board.

But earlier this year, Twitter had threatened to leave San Francisco and move its headquarters to San Mateo County where it wouldn't be obligated to a payroll tax. While businesses with an annual payroll expense of more than $250,000 now pay a 1.5 percent tax, Kim wanted to exempt Twitter from that financial burden hopes that the high-tech company, which is now valued at more than $7 billion, would serve as an anchor to revive the gritty area.

"Today is a historic day for San Francisco," Kim said. "With this vote, we are investing in community partnerships that will revitalize parts of our city that are in real need of positive change."

And she isn't talking about political change.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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