San Francisco’s Prop C homelessness tax was a big win for Marc Benioff, but legal challenges may be coming

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Opponents says the city “won’t see a penny” of the funds earmarked for the homeless.

Tuesday night was considered a sweeping victory for supporters of San Francisco’s homelessness tax, Proposition C, after the measure won 60 percent of the popular vote. But it looks as though the battle has only just begun.

Proposition C will raise the city’s gross receipts tax on companies by an average of .5 percent on annual gross receipts over $50 million, with funds earmarked toward helping the homeless. Opponents are challenging the results of the election, saying that it needed to pass by two-thirds instead of a simple majority in order to stand on solid legal ground — an assertion that is not supported by the city attorney’s office.

The risk of legal action is now causing uncertainty among San Francisco city leaders over whether they should spend the estimated $250 million to $300 million a year the tax will bring in, since they might have to give that money back if any legal challenges are successful.

Citing “current legal uncertainties associated with the measure,” the city controller’s office sent a letter to San Francisco Mayor London Breed saying that it will collect taxes for Prop C beginning in 2020 but hold off on spending the funds until there’s further clarity.

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