Kim wants to tax economic inequality

Measure would hike business taxes on companies with excessive CEO pay

Sup. Jane Kim announced today that she’s introducing legislation to increase business taxes for companies that pay their CEOs vastly more than the average worker.

Jane Kim Solo

Kim’s bill follows similar legislation in Portland, Oregon, which adds a modest surtax to companies whose CEO earns more than 100 times the pay of the median worker.

It’s a direct way to tax income inequality, and it would send a strong message if SF joined Portland.

This city doesn’t have to be as lenient as our friends to the North – we could set the standard at 25, not 100. And we could make the tax hit a bit higher.

The problem, of course, is that any new tax probably has to go on the ballot (unless the city attorney can figure out a way to make this a fee, not a tax), and even if there’s a special election in 2017, any tax measure would need a two-thirds vote.

Still: This is going to be very popular, especially in the Trump Era. And it would put SF in the forefront of what is going to be a national movement.

20 COMMENTS

  1. It might help if you thought it through a bit.

    The CEO of Salesforce made $33 million last year. So perhaps with this new wonder tax they will drop his salary to $25 million and then give the Salesforce programmers a raise to $500,000? Will that remove inequality in San Francisco? What about the people who don’t have a CEO making $33 million a year?

    How many barristas will Starbucks fire because they can’t get a CEO for less then $10 million a year. Will hospitals have to fire janitors because the Chief of Surgery gets a million a year?

    It’s straight from the progressive playbook. The solution to any and all problems is more tax. And thinking things through is something that other people do.

  2. It doesn’t matter if it only brings in a little revenue. All the whining here about “grandstanding” overlooks how political organizing actually works. Lots of progressive legislation begins in cities like SF before being taken on by states. This is a great first step to one day having an inequality tax in California.

  3. “The problem, of course, is that any new tax probably has to go on the ballot”. Rarely does the anti-democratic, authoritarian nature of this blog show itself quite so transparently.

  4. I think Jane is right. City needs another tax. City employees just aren’t paid enough – their compensation (inc benefits) is only double private sector residents…let’s do better.

  5. Jane’s running for mayor. She needs to keep herself in the spotlight now that her mentor, Power Broker Rose Pak, cannot help her from the grave.

  6. I wonder why Wonder Woman didn’t get 5 or 10 of her friends to co-sponsor this “movement” miracle?

  7. “what is going to be a national movement.” Really? um, I don’t think so, and I doubt this will happen in SF, in spite of Kim & 48hills dreams.

  8. The irony is every protest smashes Starbucks windows & Schultz is giving protestors $. Guess Schultz doesn’t care since it’s a tax write-off for him.

  9. So they’re going to impose a tax on unequal CEO pay so they can funnel it back to city employees, many of whom make far more than the average worker themselves? Redistribution never works – eventually there’s nothing left to redistribute.

  10. Good points…if it DID become a factor for any company and they didn’t want to move to Brisbane they could just defer more of the CEO’s pay or, in a worst case scenario, outsource some of the lower paying jobs.

    But it is 99.9% grandstanding. #janekim

    You look at someone like Howard Schultz at Starbucks. I’m sure that he made many times the salary of the person who makes lattes. But I don’t think that he ever forced anyone to work at a Starbucks. They are most likely people who, for whatever reason, can’t take on a high paying job right now and are probably most grateful for Howard Schultz. And we want to punish him….why????

  11. I suppose it will raise a little extra revenue and make a “statement,” which I know SF legislators are found of doing. But, as Portland found out, it does not change anything. Companies can only be taxed on business income apportioned to the city jurisdiction. Most companies who pay CEO’s a high salary are companies with business activity all over the country, and frequently all over the world. For companies who do business in SF, generally, only a small portion of their income is taxable by SF.

    So, companies will just chalk this up as another “cost of doing business,” and keep going about business as usual. And, in the very rare situation where it might possibly have a heavier impact on a particular company, the company will simply move a couple of miles to any of the numerous other Bay Area cities and towns, which do not have such a tax. It will not lower CEO pay, nor will it address the issue of inequality. This is why things like this action annoy me because they mislead people and give politicians an opportunity to grandstand without really changing the situation for people in need. In some ways, it is a sort of Trumpian move–make a big show of effectively doing nothing.

    If you want to raise a little extra revenue, then fine, go ahead and put it to the voters to see if it will pass, but do not pretend that this is anything else except a small revenue raiser. It is not “taxing inequality,” and it will not change how companies pay their CEO’s.

  12. Yup. It won’t move one iota; it will just be chalked up as another cost of doing business in San Francisco.

    But it will feel and sound great and provide some excellent grandstanding.

    #TheProgressiveWay #janekim

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