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Cupertino Council Decides Against Putting 'Apple Tax' on November Ballot

City Leaders Opt to Defer Employee Tax Referendum Until Next Year or 2020
June 19, 2018
Pictured: Apple headquarters at One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA.

Just a week after Seattle leaders hastily repealed an employee "head tax" on Amazon and other large companies, Apple's Silicon Valley headquarters city opted not to place a similar per-employee business tax referendum on the November 2018 ballot.

Under a range of options considered by Cupertino leaders, Apple, which makes up two-thirds of the city's employment base at an estimated 24,000 employees, would have faced an annual tax increase ranging from $150 per employee totaling $3.42 million to as much as $1,500 per employee, totaling $31.6 million per year.

The consensus among council members, city staff and public speakers appeared to be that rushing the business tax referendum in order to meet the deadline for including on the November ballot would not provide enough time to fully consider the measure.

Instead, the council voted late Tuesday night to direct city staff to return in two weeks with options for a possible ballot measure in 2019.

"We need a more engaged conversation with the community. Let's do that outreach," said Cupertino Mayor Darcy Paul. Other community leaders, including Andrew Walters of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce, urged that a hastily prepared tax could have unintended consequences. Some speakers expressed conccern that a tax could even compel Apple to move jobs outside Cupertino to other locations.

Councilmember Barry Chang, who as mayor in 2016 unsuccessfully promoted a $1,000-per-employee tax, held out Tuesday night for a measure to be included on this year's ballot.

"This is not a rushed tax. The big corporations are contributing to the traffic," Chang said. "We need to act now."

The city council in neighboring Mountain View voted unanimously earlier this month to move forward with a referendum this November for a tax measure that would raise up to $10 million a year by imposing a tax on a half-dozen of the city's largest employers.

Google, which has 24,000 employees, would be subject to a tax of up to $6.6 million a year under the ballot measure slated for a final vote June 26.

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