Back Room Finagling Happening Right Now At City Hall
City Will Face Resident's Wrath If Business Tax Cap Remains
Faced with the biggest budget shortfall in modern Emeryville history, the city council recently turned to investigating increasing taxes after having massively cut government services. Once their gaze was directed to the revenue side of the ledger, it didn't take long to see the glaring 800 pound gorilla residing in the business tax code: the business tax cap. Not only does Emeryville have the lowest regular business tax rate (.08% of gross receipts) in the region, it's also the only city in the entire Bay Area with a business tax cap.
The tax cap is a huge tax break for the biggest businesses that the smaller businesses don't get; it renders all gross receipts over $146 million tax free, meaning these large corporations never pay any more than $114,000 per year, leaving billions of dollars untouchable. The net effect of all this give-a-way to the billion dollar corporations is that the smaller businesses, the businesses that the residents find useful and neighborhood serving, pay a much higher rate than their well connected billion dollar corporate counterparts do.
Paul Ryan has a plan for America
and Pixar has a plan for Emeryville.
Both involve the rich not paying their share.
Emeryville has the unfortunate distinction of having the most regressive taxation in the entire Bay Area. It's enough to make Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and the Republican Party blush.
After the council floated the idea on May 3rd that perhaps the tax cap could be lifted by a November ballot initiative vote of the people of Emeryville, Pixar/Disney went apoplectic and they brought in their hot shot corporate lawyers and laid down a barrage of intimidation on our little city council. Pixar it would seem, likes the tax cap. The council withered and agreed to have city staff meet with the lawyers in private meetings to reach some kind of accord. These back room meetings are finishing up and on Tuesday, the council will reveal how much the Emeryville residents will be allowed to vote on in November.
Given the state of our budget crisis with all its cutting of services and shelving of public amenity plans, the tax cap sticks out like a sore thumb; a government give-a-way plum to the richest among us. The cap goes beyond way the rhetoric of trying to attract and retain business to help Emeryville's bottom line, the low .08% tax rate does that more than enough.
Will the city council feel
The cap is much more than that; it smells of a regime of pro-big business ideology from an era when our backs weren't against the wall as they are now. Emeryville's business tax cap is just unfair by any metric and its time has passed.
Woe be to any politician that bends to the will of Pixar and stands in the way of the people's will. Tuesday will tell.