Candidate for sheriff and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced legislation Tuesday that would offer tax breaks to employers who hire ex-offenders. Employers would be entitled to a $10,000 reduction in their total payroll tax bill for every ex-offender they hired on a full time basis and a $5,000 payroll tax bill reduction for every part-time ex-offender hired, under this two-year pilot program, which would begin in January 2012. The ex-offenders would have to be employed for at least six months for employers to qualify for the tax break.
Mirkarimi said the legislation is an effort that begins “getting to the core” of why those who end up in the jail system often commit crimes once released.
“For every four people that the San Francisco police department arrests and the district attorney prosecutes, over three are repeat offenders in San Francisco within three years,” he said.
Jobs and housing are seen as the key factors in keeping ex-offenders on the straight and narrow.
If 100 full time ex-offenders were hired under the law then it would mean a loss of $1 million in payroll tax revenue in a year, a small fraction of the $390.6 million in payroll taxes The City is expected to collect this year from the 1.5 percent payroll tax.
The proposal comes as The City is retooling the way it handles lawbreakers under the state’s realignment program, which is resulting in San Francisco receiving hundreds more criminals who previously would either be in state prison or out on probation.
The legislation would require approval by the Board of Supervisors to become law. The proposal would first undergo a hearing by a board committee after 30 days.