City of Palo Alto Business Tax, Measure A (November 2009)

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A City of Palo Alto Business Tax, Measure A ballot question was on the November 3, 2009 ballot for voters in the City of Palo Alto in Santa Clara County, where it was defeated.[1]

If voters had approved Measure A, businesses in Palo Alto would have been required to pay the city a minimum of $75/year over and above the taxes they already pay, plus an extra $35 to $75 per year for each new additional employee. The new tax would have gone into effect in 2011. The tax would have been based on how many employees a business has, not on how much (or how little) profit the business makes. Some businesses would have to pay as much as $30,000 more in taxes every year under the proposed measure.

Some businesses would have been exempt. These were to include residential landlords renting fewer than three units, and non-profit organizations with fewer than 100 employees.[2]

The Palo Alto City Council, which voted to put Measure A on the ballot, believed that it will raise $3 million in new taxes for the city.[3]

Election results

Measure A
Defeatedd No8,19557.28%
Yes 6,113 42.75%
These final, certified, election results are from the Santa Clara County elections office.


Supporters of Measure A believed that it would give city politicians more money and that, if they had more money, politicians would do something about the city's backlog of repairs, maintenance and general infrastructure.[4]


Skip Justman formed a group called "Small Business Against Taxes" to oppose Measure A. Justman was also the chair of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce's Government Action Committee.[5]

The group developed a fact sheet in which it laid out its arguments against Measure A.[3] Arguments included:

  • "Measure A will create a business license tax in Palo Alto written by the city to benefit large corporations and will unfairly burden our city's small businesses."[3]
  • If Measure A passes, it will charge multi-billion-dollar corporations a lower rate per employee than small businesses.[3]
  • Manufacturing firms would pay $34 per employee while professional service businesses would pay $95 per employee.[3]
  • The city's largest corporations will pay lower rates than medium-sized businesses.[3]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure A: "Shall the Palo Alto Municipal Code be amended to establish a business license tax in order to help maintain the City’s ability to fund basic City services?"[6]

See also

External links

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