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San Mateo County Car Rental Tax, Measure T (June 2012)

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A San Mateo County Car Rental Tax, Measure T ballot question was on the June 5, 2012 ballot for voters in San Mateo County, where it was very narrowly approved.[1]

The approval of Measure T means that car rental companies in the county will be required to pay 2.5% of their gross receipts to the county.

The gross receipts tax on car rental companies was on the ballot with two other tax increase proposals, a gross receipts tax on commercial parking lots and a hotel tax increase. Both of those measures were defeated.[2] If all three tax increases had been approved by voters, this would have resulted in $13 million a year in additional revenue to the county.[1] Measure T, by itself, will generate about $8 million a year.[2]

Voters defeated a similar proposal, Measure R, on November 4, 2008.

Election results

Measure T
Approveda Yes 57,228 50.1%
These final election results are from the San Mateo County elections office (timed out).


Measure T was supported by:

  • Adrienne Tissier, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
  • Carole Groom, member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
  • Ann Campbell, Superintendent of the San Mateo County School District[3]

A group called "San Mateo County Forward" also supported Measure T, and the other two tax hike measures on the June 5, 2012 ballot. Don Horsley, speaking for the group, said, "Our opponents believe that somehow these very modest taxes will basically cause travelers to stop coming to the Bay Area, and that’s an absurd notion. We’re talking about a cup of coffee here...They are being dramatically disingenuous by saying it’s a car tax. This is not a car tax, this is a small fee on rental vehicles that will mostly be paid by tourists, and it’s a fee that’s fairly consistent with airports throughout the (nation)."[4]


Representatives of several national car rental companies attended the meeting of the San Mateo County board of supervisors during which the supervisors made the decision to place the car rental tax measure on the ballot. They argued that the new tax would have a negative impact on the tourism business in the county. Tourism currently accounts for about 67,000 jobs in the county.[1]

John Ballesteros, the vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Travel Association, also opposed the car rental tax, and two other tax increase measures on the June 5, 2012 ballot, saying, "These measures before you will undoubtedly have a negative impact to attracting visitors, creating an opportunity cost in terms of lost jobs to the region."[1]

The U.S. Travel Association conducted a nationwide survey of 366 convention, trade show and meeting industry professionals. They were asked whether Measure T and two other taxes on the June 5, 2012 ballot would have an impact on whether they would plan to have a meeting in San Mateo County. According to this research, 40% of those surveyed would either "definitely" search for a new meeting destination or would "reconsider" holding a meeting or event in the county. 58% of those surveyed also said that it is their belief that the Bay Area's taxes on visitors are among the highest in the nation and are second only to New York City's.[5]

Ballot text

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE T: "Shall Chapter 5.150 be added to the San Mateo County Ordinance Code, imposing a business license tax of two and one-half percent (2.5%) of gross receipts on operators of vehicle rental businesses located in the unincorporated area of San Mateo County?"[6]

Cost of election

See also: Costs of administering local elections

The cost to San Mateo County of holding the election on the hotel tax increase, and two other tax increase measures, was about $280,000.[7]

See also

External links

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