Does Mayor Lee support Airbnb dodging its $1.8 million tax debt to SF?

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Is Mayor Ed Lee more loyal to the city or his campaign contributors?
Tim Daw

My story in this week's Guardian about how Airbnb appears to be refusing to pay the hotel taxes it owes to the city has gotten a lot of attention. But I'm still getting stonewalled by representatives from the company and Mayor Ed Lee, who apparently refuses to take a public stand against corporate tax evasion, even when it means thousands of San Franciscans could get stuck with an unexpected tax bill.

How much money are we talking about? According to a study that Airbnb commissioned and publicized late last year, its hosts in San Francisco collect $12.7 million from their guests every year. That means that if the company was charging the 14 percent Transient Occupancy Tax – as the Tax Collector's Office last year ruled that it must – it would be paying the city nearly $1.8 million annually.

But that doesn't seem to be happening, although only Airbnb can say for sure, which is why its spokespeople have been dodging my questions for more than a week. As I reported, taxpayer privacy laws prevent city officials from disclosing how much individual businesses pay in local taxes, but we do know Airbnb doesn't add the TOT to the online transactions it facilitates or specifically encourage its San Francisco hosts to collect the taxes (even though the tax codes make the hosts and Airbnb jointly responsible for this growing debt to city coffers). And with the company charging 6-12 percent per transaction, it's a safe bet that it isn't simply paying the taxes itself.

What makes this particular case of corporate tax dodging even more interesting is the fact that Mayor Lee has a close connection to this particular San Francisco-based corporation. Venture capitalist Ron Conway is a top investor in both Airbnb and Mayor Lee's political campaigns, creating a potential conflict-of-interest in Room 200. Last year, Mayor Lee personally lobbied against the interpretation by the Tax Collector's Office, and now he appears to be silently backing Airbnb's resistance to paying its taxes.

Last week, when I was trying to get a comment for Lee spokesperson Francis Tsang on Airbnb's apparent tax dodge, he replied, “It's an incorrect assumption that Airbnb and hosts haven't been paying any transient occupancy tax..” Of course, because of the taxpayer privacy laws, Tsang can't actually support that statement and I responded by laying out the evidence that the city is getting stiffed by Airbnb.

Then, he and Airbnb simply stopped responding to my questions, even though I've made repeated inquiries and asked only whether Mayor Lee was willing to make a public statement calling for a major San Francisco corporation to meet its local tax obligations. And in the interests of fully transparency, I'll close with the email that I sent to spokespersons for Airbnb and the Mayor's Office on Wednesday as my story came out, along with their emails in case you want to push for answers yourself.

kim@airbnb.com, francis.tsang@sfgov.org, christine.falvey@sfgov.org.

Dear Airbnb and mayoral spokespeople,

Since I couldn't get responsive answers from any of you about why Airbnb isn't collecting the Transient Occupancy Tax from its guests, I wanted to forward the link to my story on the topic in our latest issue (http://www.sfbg.com/2013/03/19/airbnb-isnt-sharing) and to let you know that I will continue covering this issue in the Guardian and our sister newspapers until you address it publicly.

Because of privacy laws that limit the Tax Collector's Office from addressing this directly, only Airbnb can say whether they're paying any of the hotel taxes that the city last year conclusively ruled that they owe. As I reported in my story, that tax obligation is shared jointly by Airbnb and its hosts, who don't appear to have been warned of this by the company, making this an issue of consumer protection as well as corporate greed.

Will the Mayor's Office make a public statement opposing tax evasion? Will it stand up for San Franciscans who may be unwittingly stuck with the tax bill by Airbnb? Or will Mayor Lee stick up for a tax-dodging corporation funded by the same billionaire that funds his political campaigns? And how will people feel about San Franciscans and the city treasury paying for his political ambitions?

These are all questions that I plan to air and explore in the Guardian, and I think that our readers and the general public deserve answers to those questions. If there are reasons why Airbnb guests aren't being charged the TOT, some other arrangement that has been made, or some other complex reasons why Airbnb feels it can't comply with last year's ruling by the Tax Collector's Office, I'll be happy to hear it and let you make your case to our readers. But I don't think that continuing to stonewall me is going to be a viable strategy for any of you. I hope to hear from you soon.

Comments

Of course Ed Lee wants to give Airbnb a pass. This crowd will not be satisfied until San Franciscans are compelled to march in solemn procession bearing gold bricks on red velvet pillows with golden tassels to our economic overlords.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 11:43 am

who are not domiciled in San Francisco, and they are not required to turn over their books to the city tax collector either.

So why are you arguing that a San Francisco company should be put at a 14% disadvantage to their competitors elsewhere?

And if Lee did do that, why wouldn't AirBnB simply move to, say, Brisbane? Whereupon the city would then give them a fat tax break not to go?

We are supposed to be encouraging businesses to be in SF, you know?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

As long as it goes to a private business, I'm all for it. It's the job of the taxpayers to fund private investment, particularly the kind that goes against things progressives like. The city can easily make it up by cutting services to the undeserving poor, which is to say people who shouldn't be living here anyway. Anything that concentrates wealth, I'm comfortable with.

Posted by anon on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 7:26 am

someone looking for a hook to attack a popular mayor.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 9:11 am

As long as he supports the job creators in the business community, and not wage slave losers, I'm cool with him. Money will take care of making him popular come election time. He doesn't need to think about that now. He just needs to keep working for the right things, and the right people will continue to support him.

Posted by anon on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

points for Marcos, who captured it well. Ed Lee and the likes of him will not be satisfied until San Francisco is a elite playground reserved only for the super wealthy.

Everything that made this city truly wonderful is disappearing - that is, the people, the artists and creatives. In their place I see increasing numbers of violent drunks, rampant homelessness, weekday crack smoking 2 blocks from the tourists in Union Square, etc. And, of course, just a few feet away, ALWAYS: lots of beautiful people in shiny cars - glass and steel barriers offering them a convenient ignorance of the human suffering that continues to pile up all around us.

Posted by readysetawesome on Jun. 03, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

But the vast majority of the comments made on that article were highly critical of your insinuations.

AirBnB is not evading any tax because they are not the ones who owe the tax (assuming, for a moment, that you regard the tax as legit, which many do not).

AirBnB are merely the go-between. They are not a party to the actual business contract, which is between the host and the visitor. If, as some suggest, the host is responsible for paying the tax then AirBnB are doing exactly the right thing by reminding hosts, on their website, that they should ensure they pay all taxes due.

AirBnB are not tax collectors; they are facilitators. They owe no tax. And, in fact, if they were located elsewhere, say Geneva, you would not be even making this "point".

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

To heck with Geneva, if it wasn't a chance to print one of those grand accusatory headlines against Ed Lee he wouldn't be interested.

For the record, here is what AirBNB says on their web site to prospective hosts:

"Taxes: Ensure you look up any local taxes or business license requirements that may apply. This may include things like hotel/transient occupancy tax, sales, and other turnover taxes such as Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST), or income tax."

So if they don't? If someone books a room through Expedia or Travelocity and the hotel doesn't pay their taxes are the web sites liable?

It's still a mucky area and I can totally understand why Steven gets ignored. Right now it is a $1.8 million dollar question that needs to be worked out. How much would it cost to figure out who owes money and how much?

Yes, to Steven it is a chance to print one of those big accusatory headlines insinuating that Lee is doing something crooked to help Ron Conway save some pocket change.

The nuances don't matter.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

here (and personally I do not) then that still doesn't sit at AirBnB's door.

AirBnB are doing the exact same thing as everyone else in this business space is doing - making their customers aware of what (might be) some individual tax consequences and advising them to take individual advice.

Steven surely cannot expect them to act as tax collectors, especially when none of their competitiors can be required to. It would take federal law to ensure that inter-state commerce laws are not being violated and even then, as noted, what happens if the service is domiciled overseas?

Parochial city laws really do not work well in a global, internet-driven world.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

The city needs federal interstate commerce permission for this tax? I guess you don't get out much since there are thousands of cities and towns across the country that charge transient occupancy taxes. Cities and towns often prefer them as a major tax source since it shifts some of the tax burden to non-residents. Fly into Denver sometime, rent a car, and pay for overnight lodging. The total "transient" taxes will be close to 25% of the total bill.

When most working people are being bombarded with hefty government taxes and fees, how anyone can defend tax cheats is beyond me. Welcome to life in America: steal a loaf of bread and you'll get 6 months in the county jail; but cheat the government out of taxes and you'll become even more wealthy while the government looks the other way.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

curiously omitted the other companies that do the same thing, including even CraigsList which is also based in SF (and in fact I find all my short-term tenants from CL and not AirBnB).

Steven did this mostly to take a cheap shot at Mayor Lee, as others have pointed out. But there is a legal concern here because SF has no jurisdiction over any entity outside of SF, unless they have the backing of the State concerned. We went through the exact same issue with online vendors not collecting CA sales tax.

SF's only real option here is to chase down the hundreds of SF residents who rent out their homes to visitors - an important part of the local economy. It is not clear that that is an effective strategy, either financially, practically or politically.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

AirBnB may be the biggest tax evader, but of course the city government should be using each of its applicable agencies to find tax cheaters whatever means they're using to find paying guests. If the people assigned to that the job of finding tax evaders aren't performig adequately - including the mayor and his staff - then the public should be made aware of this fact.

A simple 25% finders fee for any tax collected based on tips from nearby residents who see a building being used for short-term rentals could help the city find these scofflaws too. If there's no city business registration license on file for the short-term rental business, there's a good chance the taxes aren't being paid either.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

requires them to collect a tax, and because they are not a party to the host-guest transaction, which is the only potentially taxable event here, if anything is.

Finders fees do not work, because they cause conflicts of interest. That is whyw e don't pay traffic cops a commission on each ticket they write. And it's a really nasty, callous, un-neighborly idea, setting residents againste ach other (the hallmark class-warfare tactic of the left).

And, as noted earlier, it would be easy to charge $1 for the room, and $99 for some other service that is nothing to do with "occupation" e,g, a "convenience fee", which credit cards are so found of.

You're gonna have to get up earlier in the morning, I'm afraid.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

I will pay not tax there. Why do you claim that is not the case? And why should we charge people from Denver if they are not charging SF'ers when we go there.

This "problem", if it needs a solution at all, needs a Federal solution. Same thing with the whole business of sales tax on internet purchases. Interstate commerce trumps local laws.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

Some of the more obsessive posters here love to strongly state their (often asinine) opinions as fact. It seems the louder they yell it, or the more times they say it, that somehow these (often asinine) opinions will be magically transformed into fact. But whereas a few times the commenters are actually close to a factual representation of reality, other posters have a 100% record of statements that never even come close to reality. anon is one of these special cases.

For any other readers dubious of the anon spin, the taxes mentioned are local taxes on local transactions. The feds have nothing to do with them as long as they meet 14th amendment due process standards that apply to every law, which they obviously satisfy since they are (supposed to be) fairly applied to all. State law empowers county and city taxation, not federal law. Almost every touristy town in CA (and elsewhere) uses a transient occupancy tax to fund part of government operations. The fact some owners/operators try to stay under the radar and cheat on the taxes owed the city/county is a problem everywhere. But the city has a responsibility to collect the taxes owed. If people are dropping the ball on tax enforcement and collection, changes need to be made.

The sales tax issue is also long settled. States have the power to tax local sales AND local purchasers. These laws have been upheld for decades, although the federal government has protected some business sales activity from triggering state/city taxes, which is why many interestate transactions over the phone or internet are exempt from sales tax. The purchaser is required to pay the use, however.

You bring up one good point. When the city finds a owner/operater getting over $30 a night for short-term visits but isn't paying the city occupancy tax, besides the back taxes, penalties and interest the city is owed, the city should also notify the state sales tax auditors since it's likely these same tax cheaters are not declaring all of their state use tax either.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

argued or ruled on in court as they apply to the notion of a "transient tax" which, in any event, does not exist in many places.

The fact that AirBnB is in SF doesn't make much difference, since they easily could move their domicile if there were a clear tax advantage to so doing.

The jury is out on this one, but the fact that the city doesn't bother to enforce this is indicative that they do not believe they have a strong case here.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

If you think a company can move location to avoid a tax assessed on their business activity within another city, you're so far off it's silly you keep posting nonsense here. It doesn't matter where a company or business owner/operator resides: if they are profiting from an economic activity that occurs within a city or county or state or country, they are liabile for any taxes that may be owed on that economic activity.

I would hope the city has a process in place for assessing a tax lien against any SF property that is being used to profit from short-term rental income but is evading the occupancy tax owed.

By the way, good job showing the comment readers how unsavorory and unlawful some business owners can be. Have you listed 100 reasons yet why you and other tax cheats won't pay the tax that is owed to the city?

It's becoming very clear the city needs to locate a few of the more egregious occupancy tax cheats and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. That may wake up all of the other tax cheats out there that they better start paying the tax, or sell the building to an honest taxpayer who will gladly pay the occupancy tax owed on short-term rentals.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

A company like AirBnB can be anywhere, including outside the US. It's customer base is global. Sf can impose any tax they like on anyone they like, but unless they have the emans to enforce it, it is futile.

Example - Iran could announce a tax of $100 a week on anyone who reads the SFBG. They are perfectly entitled to pass such a law, but they can only enforce it in Iran. Not here.

Some of the ideas mooted here, e.g. forcing AirBnB to open their books, might be possible if they located in SF, but is less possible if they are outside SF, even more so if they are outside CA, and damn near impossible if they are overseas.

All such an attempt would achieve is to drive AirBnB out of the city, state or country. And SF would still be elft chasing after all the SF rresidents who use AirBnB, who may be mostly tenants for all you or I know.

You really have not thought this through at all. Bricks and morter places like stores and hotels cannot be moved, but an internet go-between can be anywhere. If you want a law forcing them to collect taxes, you're going to have to ultimately find a federal alw, and I do not think there is one.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

But Expedia and Travelocity *do* collect taxes...

Posted by baklazhan on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 1:45 am

the hotel charges for the room. Whereas the argument here was for the tax to be separately itemized and collected.

The ultimate responsibility for the tax always sits with the hotelier. Many guests do not book hotels thru third parties, and the tax still gets paid.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 7:01 am

Actually, most commenters on my article understood that Airbnb owes this money, it was only one commenter (presumably you, Guest) who alleged without any support that this tax was not legitimate. The tax code, and last year's ruling interpreting the tax code, also makes it clear that Airbnb and its hosts are indeed responsible for this tax obligation. Also, this tax obligation isn't specific to Airbnb and it has nothing to do with the company being headquartered here. The ruling covered all "shared housing" rentals -- Airbnb just happens to be the largest one, a local one, and having a close relationship with our mayor and his billionaire backer. Foreign-owned hotels are easily able to collect and pay the TOT in San Francisco, there's no reason why corporations using websites to handle their transactions can't do the same thing. You can't escape your real-world obligations and impacts by hiding in "the cloud"

Posted by steven on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

AirBnB matter at all, but rather applies to all short-term rentals. Good. This is progress.

It clearly makes little sense to pursue, say, a website in Switzerland that is hooking up SF homeowners and Swiss tourists, because SF has no jurisdiction in Switzerland (or anywhere else outside of SF, in fact).

Which leaves you with the issue of SF residents who share their homes on a short-term basis with visitors. That comes down to whether the SF hotel tax should apply in those cases. You claim the SF tax office says so, and maybe they do, but they are obviously biased. If course they will claim the tax is due. But it is for a court to confirm that, and I am doubtful.

But either way, picking on AirBnB is a red herring, and tells readers that you are more interested in taking a pop at Mayor Lee than you are genuinely concerned that there might be some tax avoidance here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

My original article made it clear in the first sentence that this is about all "shared housing" companies, of which Airbnb is simply the biggest, most local, and highest profile. Nice try. And I don't think many people would share your view that my outing of a multi-million-dollor corporate tax cheat is simply about embarassing Ed Lee, although I do think he should be embarassed to stand with CEOs against the city he was elected to represent.

Posted by steven on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:58 am

Mayor Lee's office and the Tax Collector should have an opportunity to present to the BOS in a formal hearing the information they've gathered about how many short term rentals there are each month and year that meet the definition of "transient occupancy," and how many tax returns are filed. It's easy enough to compile the number of transient occupancy tax returns filed each year, and the number of tax returns that represent smaller owner/operators other than established motels, B&Bs and hotels. No personal tax information has to be disclosed for this information to be provided to the BOS and public.

If there is a substantial difference between the number of short-term visitor stays compared to tax returns filed, then the Tax Collector and Mayor's office can explain to the BOS what audit and other compliance procedures they are undertaking to ferret out the city's tax evaders. I suspect the Tax Collector and/or BOS could also install a reward system where residents can earn 25% of the tax collected when they notify the city of property owners who are using apartments for short-term rentals if it turns out they are not paying the required tax. Also, there should be checks on business registration and health/safety inspection requirements for owners that provide short-term rentals more than once or twice a year.

It's not just the $1.8 million in lost revenue (I suspect it's more after the tax audits are completed), but it's the perception that wealthy landlords and their transient guests who benefit from the extensive city services paid by everyone else are not paying taxes when everyone else is expected to play by the rules.

Future elections will be coming up. If a mayor and other city leaders can't be bothered to collect mandatory taxes from wealthy landlords while city residents suffer from inadequate MUNI and other city service cut-backs, tax evasion is the type of issue that should be addressed in future campaigns.

Posted by guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

there is any tax liability on the part of AirBnB. As a number here have already opined, it is not at all clear that AirBnb have any obligation to collect any such taxes (which would require them to have knowledge and information that they most likely do not). Where is your proof that AirBnB have any such obligation? Why not CraigsList and other websites that connect hosts and guests?

While if you accept the idea that this has nothing do with with AirBnB but is really a potential obligation only of those of us who rent out part or all of our homes, then you should specifically exclude AirBnB from the scope of this and, instead, seek to investigate who is engaged in this activity and whether it is really true that this hotel tax is due.

I suspect the latter will lead to lawsuits against the city.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

But there's no hanky-panky going on in the mayor's office, no, none, sure, none at all...

Posted by Granny Gear on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

Just a snide shot at a pro-jobs Mayor with a 65% approval rating?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

Hey granny I wondered when you'd show up here. Love your posts in the SF Bike mess group.

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 23, 2013 @ 8:28 am

Over the decades the SFBG has probably generated millions of dollars by hooking up prostitutes and clients (pun intended) in almost exactly the same fashion as AirBNB hooks up tourists and people with rooms.

So, exactly how much state income tax did those prostitutes pay on their earnings? How much is the SFBG therefore liable for?

I bet it's a LOT more than $1.8 million.

This article is all about trying to embarrass Ed Lee. The person who SHOULD be embarrassed is Tom Vogt.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

john's for decades now. There is no evidence that these hookers are paying income tax on their earnings, nor are they licensed to provide entertainment, nor that they have health screenings.

Since SFBG is the "AirBnB of SF hookerdom" I demand an immediate city inquiry into the taxes thereby evaded, and further demand that SFBG have to fully account for that and pay any shortfall.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

is false. Airbnb acts as an booking/travel agent for the short term housing provider, collecting the fee (or rent), and taking a percentage. The SFBG does not act as an agent for sex workers or other businesses that advertise in its newspaper or website.

Nobody claims that advertisers are responsible for the taxes for the services they advertise. Airbnb is more than an advertiser, however; it is an agent, similar to Travelocity, Hotwire, Priceline, etc., websites that collect the appropriate taxes and presumably pay them to the municipalities.

Finally, in another comment, Guest (or anon) writes, "As a number here have already opined...". Thoughful readers know that that number is one or two--anon (under various screen names) and perhaps one other "Guest."

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 6:57 am

Thanks to the SFASC for taking the time to point this out in regard to the posts by anon at 1:58 and 2:03.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 24, 2013 @ 7:46 am

That's completely different!

Just because the SFBG facilitates prostitution is no reason why it should be responsible for the tax evasions of sexworkers!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

they be paying a hotel tax? Her visitors are transients and they give them a bed for a short period of time, along with "services".

That is obviously exactly the same as a 1000-room Hilton Hotel full of conventioneers.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

Um, did anybody notice that the city tax collector, who has jurisdiction over such matters, says Airbnb MUST pay the hotel tax? And the company is supposed to collect it, the same way if I run a corner store I have to collect sales tax from my customers and turn it over to the state. That's not Steve or the Bay Guardian making an assumption. It's the city's top tax official.

Posted by tim on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

courts that decide whether such a policy pronouncement is elgally enforceable. Even the IRS loses a fair amount of the cases that go to court, and of course both SF and CA have lost prominent tax cases in the past over such things as multi-nationals and how much tax they should pay locally.

Those SF'ers like me who practice short-term rentals do not regard this cheap attempt at applying the hotel tax to home-shares as having any validity, and therefore we refuse to pay it.

Moreover, insofar as it is even valid, it is not for AirBnB to presuppose that the tax is valid and collect it. They are merely an intermediary. Your corner store analogy falls down because a store is a party to the business, not a third part to it.

Until a court of law law definitively rules that this tax is valid, and that it should be collected by third parties regardless of their location, AirBnB are doing nothing wrong.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

the right of the city to demand its "taste" of every single transaction, as if taxes flowing into the city's coffers were the answer to all the problems afflicting us? They rail against capitalism yet at the same time swallow, balls-deep, the premise underlying capitalism which is that every problem is best solved by shoving more money at it and profit is always king. There's no difference between a business demanding the right to maximize its profits by sticking it to consumers and the city demanding the right to maximize ITS profits by sticking it to people who rent out a bedroom. It's just that one has the backing of the Guardian- that the mafia like City of San Francisco should be able to demand a kickback from every transaction someone makes in the city.

You really have to wonder how progressives ended up in the corner of trying to stick it to someone who rents out a spare bedroom occasionally and even opines that there's little difference between that person and an international corporation like Hilton or Marriott.

What a sad and bankrupt ideology we are witnessing here.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

tenants who, if this ever were enforced, would find themselves facing both tax bills and eviction notices.

But of course, Tim and Steven don't really care about that, if there is a sniff of an opportunity to dish out some dirt on Lee, who trashed their candidate in the last mayoral election.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

and the city's unions. It literally transmits their statements as orthodoxy and does the same with progressives, like Ross Mirkarimi, as well.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

they would actually fpo fund raising for them, or charity or volunteer work, like many of the successful people they love to hate do.

But no, they would ratehr tell others what to think and do, and try and perpetuate their influence thru the usual suspects. Sadly for SFBG, the voters are seeing through their hypocrisy.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

Any regular reader of SFBG would guess that its collective readers, and the SFBG staff itself, perform far more hours volunteering for social service work, including feeding the poor and caring for youth, disabled and aged, than anon, Lucretia, and many of their compatriots who post here to make trouble would ever consider.

But social service volunteering is a very personal choice that no one else can speak to without a malicious reason since we don't live each other's lives or know the history or priorities of each person. And of course anon has a malacious reason for everything he posts, as evidenced here everyday, which is why he often relies on biased personal attacks.

But the SFBG performs an even more important function than social service work: it fights for social justice. Anon and Lucretia would never understand this, but it's often the unjust laws and biased politicians who favor the wealthy over poor families that create many of the reasons for the poor, homeless, and malnourished in the first place. If some of these injustices were solved, many of the other pressing needs that keep social service organizations currently very busy will get solved too.

The important role the SFBG plays in the local community is precisely why its authors and commentors receive so many relentless personal attacks, full of hate and fury. These hateful and often lying commentors want the current economic system maintained at all costs, and any threat - even a shoestring operation like the SFBG - is a potential threat that must be destroyed at any cost.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

projecting envy and trying to punish those who have out-performed you. It is a bankrupt loser policy which is why Americans have always rejected European-style welfare states where working becomes merely a lifestyle option.

I'd be more impressed if any of the SFBG staff or readers gave of their own time and money, but I see no evidence of that. They'd much rather tell others what to do.

Posted by anon on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

No group gets more tax deductions, write-offs, exclusions, and tax exemptions than the wealthy. Every year politicians give the wealthy hundreds of billions of free money for tax-exempt interest, phony depreciation deductions, landlord interest write-offs, low capital gain tax rates, tax-free withdrawls of cash from appreciated property, tax "basis" adjustments when billions of dollars of wealth is transfered from one privileged generation to the next, on and on.

Since you're on here all day spewing your hate and complete ignorance about every subject imaginable it's obvious you aren't contributing much time to those in need, so I wouldn't be too quick to judge what others are doing with their time and monetary contributions. The readers here know that it's really no one else's business how other people spend their time. But we also know that many people drawn to the articles here that are focused on social justice issues are also performing a good share of effort towards social service too.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

tax deductions are those who may the most tax?

OMG. By jove, I think you've got it!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

Actually in a large % of the cases, they aren’t paying the most taxes – often they are paying a much lower % of their income in taxes than what much lower income people are paying – and sometimes it’s not just %, they may be paying a lower amt in absolute amts (if they are paying anything at all). That was what the person you responded to was trying to tell you but either you’re were too stupid to get it or were just playing stupid.

The fact that the mega-rich pay a lower % - often a much much lower % - of their income in taxes is WRONG. They should be PAYING a HIGHER % of their income in taxes since the utility of the extra income beyond what they could possibly want (within reason) or need is much much lower than the utility that would result if that $ was used for educating low income kids and adults or paying for infastructure or building better mass transit systems, etc.

If you hate govt so much and want it to be starved, no one is stopping you from moving to Somalia or some other locale without a functioning govt.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

I'll take the European model, thanks, and I just might.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

Not that they would have a weenyhead like you there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

I'm not sure how I would handle the 29 days of vacation, 9 holidays and a maximum 40 hour week, top flight health insurance for like €225/mo and an 8% annual vacation bonus that I'm seeing for what I do.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

the local economy anyway, although further confirmation of that does no harm, I suppose.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

The infinitesimal contributions that I made to the IETF HTTP working group that produced RFC-1945, multiplied by the volume of value that HTTP added to the economy, eclipses anything you've ever thought of.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 22, 2013 @ 8:50 pm