Supervisor Gordon Mar speaks at a news conference as a group of supervisors and community organizations voice their support of a proposed ballot measure that will use a stock-based compensation tax to address inequality at City Hall on Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Proposed ‘IPO tax’ pulled from November ballot

Supervisor Mar plans to pursue revised measure in 2020

Supervisor Gordon Mar on Wednesday will withdraw a proposal to ask voters to tax stock-based compensation that was intended to target tech companies going public like Uber.

Mar’s decision came as the deadline approached for the Board of Supervisors to vote to place the tax on the November ballot.

The measure is scheduled for consideration Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, when it will be withdrawn.

Mar said he plans to instead focus his attention on placing a similar measure on the November 2020 ballot which he will introduce next week. That measure, a general tax, would require a majority of votes to pass, not the two-thirds needed for the now abandoned November measure, which dedicated the funds to such things as affordable housing and programs for families.

City officials are already expected to ask voters to approve a $600 million affordable housing bond in November and a tax on rides provided through services like Uber and Lyft. Both efforts have broad political support.

Mar’s “IPO tax” faced criticism for targeting not just companies going public but all stock-based compensation. The businesses would pay the tax.

“By focusing this November on the $600 million Affordable Housing Bond and [Transportation Network Company] Tax, we will continue to build momentum for longer term solutions to the biggest problems facing our City,” Mar said. “The Stock Compensation Tax is an important tool for addressing economic inequality, and by moving it to the November 2020 ballot we gain the time we need to work with community and labor leaders to connect, coordinate, and present comprehensive solutions for the issue of economic inequality — the Stock Compensation Tax is one part of this broader strategy.”

Mar’s decision also comes as Mayor London Breed and Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee announced earlier this month that City Controller Ben Rosenfield would form a working group to develop a ballot measure for November 2020 that would reform the current business tax structure and look at ways to increase revenue. The effort builds on a measure voters approved in 2012 that transitioned San Francisco’s tax on a businesses payroll to a gross receipts tax.

Mar said that the group of labor and community groups who back the Stock Compensation Tax, known as the Shared Prosperity Coalition, will continue to meet with him “to look comprehensively at strategies for addressing economic inequality, including reviewing and recommending further tax reforms.”

The measure is only the latest proposal slated for the November ballot to be withdrawn.

Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney have withdrawn their November ballot measures around mental health, which included a tax on companies with “excessive CEO” salaries, and said Tuesday they are now aiming for the March 2020 ballot.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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