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Peskin introduces Uber, Lyft tax, seeks to repeal ‘Twitter Tax Break’

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Supervisor Aaron Peskin on Tuesday introduced a proposal to tax Uber, Lyft and Chariot. (Aleah Fajardo/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Aaron Peskin wants to tax Uber, Lyft and Chariot — and he’s crafted a proposal for November’s ballot to do it.

But Peskin’s proposed new gross receipts tax on high-tech transit doesn’t just target ride-hails: If approved by the Board of Supervisors it would also repeal the controversial so-called “Twitter Tax Break.”

The supervisor introduced the dual proposal at the Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting, Tuesday. If approved, it would place a gross receipts tax on revenue of Uber and Lyft and any other company the state designates as a transportation network company on the November ballot. Private transit companies like Chariot would also be affected, but corporate shuttles would not be taxed under the proposal.

SEE RELATED: SF lawmaker wants city tax for Uber, Lyft for Nov. ballot

The City Controller and chief economist project the tax would generate upwards of $35 million annually, according to Peskin’s office.

But should the supervisors vote to place the measure on the ballot, they would also be voting to immediately repeal the Central Market Tax Exclusion, which allowed companies located in the blighted mid-Market area, like Twitter, to avoid paying San Francisco payroll taxes. That proposal was crafted by Supervisor Jane Kim and the late Mayor Ed Lee.

The current sunset date for the Central Market Tax Exclusion is May 20, 2019.

At the board, Peskin said the Twitter Tax Break had “overstayed its welcome,” and emphasized that “this is a corporate business tax, not a tax or fee on drivers.”

“I believe that it’s good policy practice to ensure that our local laws keep pace with our growing technology landscape – we have to move just as quickly as tech, and make sure that there are clear and equitable rules that apply to the business sector,” Peskin said in a statement.

Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, blasted Peskin’s proposal.

“The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce agrees that we must fix inequities in the local gross receipts tax, but selectively targeting a handful of companies for punishment, with no guarantee where the money will be spent, is exactly the wrong approach,” Lazarus said in a statement.

Uber declined to comment.

In a statement, Lyft said “This is a lose-lose proposition for the people of San Francisco, directly costing residents millions of dollars while stifling economic opportunity for thousands of drivers.”

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