The City That Knows How… to Tax, and Tax, and Tax

Commentary“The city that knows how” was a great moniker that was attached to San Francisco at the end of World War I. Until the last three decades, it really was the city that knew how to get things done. Several weeks ago, I attended a seminar on quality-of-life issues in San Francisco. One of the speakers was Peter Fatooh who, as president of San Francisco Property Tax Appeals, has been representing property owners in their over-assessment appeals with the city for decades. After listening to Mr. Fatooh’s presentation, I thought it important to pass on the following information to those who might be questioning: Is this really the city that knows how, and if so, why is the cost of living so high there? San Francisco, many years ago, had mayors and members of its board of supervisors who actually had common ground with property owners. Not since the 50s, 60s, and 70s have we witnessed such an affinity. To be clear, there were plenty of political fights over budgets and how to balance them, but at the end of the day, there was enough of a balance in the executive and legislative sides of city hall to temper the pinch on the backbone of city revenue, the property owner. Today, and for the past 30 years, it has been governance by finding more ways to tax the property owners. After all, it is the renters who control the vote in San Francisco so who needs the property owners? Who needs the property owners may be the dismissive attitude of our local government, but in truth, the property owner is the goose laying the golden egg for the spenders at city hall. Witness the burden on SF property owners and renters: (1) The sales tax in San Francisco is 8.625 percent—the state gets 7.25 percent and SF piles on another 1.375 percent. (2) Property tax annually assessed to all SF property owners: 1.182 percent of the assessed value of your property. If you are assessed at a value of $2M, you pay almost $24,000 annually! (3) The transfer tax is known as “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” as you are leaving the city. This is the tax San Francisco imposes on property owners who dare to sell their property! So, you have been paying an annual property tax and kept your property up over the years, and now you are selling it for maybe $2M or more. You will fork out from your hard-earned profit $15,000 and hand it over to the unmasked bandits at city hall. For what? To add insult to injury, let’s say you purchased the property 10 years ago and, thanks to California Proposition 13, your property taxes were based on your initial purchase price of say $1M. You were paying the City approximately $12,000 in annual property taxes. Now, you sell for $2M. The city gets to reassess the property for the new owner. That new owner will pay the city an additional $12,000 annually over and above the $12,000 they were receiving prior to the sale. The city taxes you on your sale through the transfer tax and doubles the annual property taxes to the new owner. It’s a scam. Oh, let’s not forget that other famous tax the property owners are bearing! It’s devilishly called the “parcel tax.” Tax increases in the State of California require a two-thirds approval by the voters. These parcel taxes have been ruled to not have to meet that voter threshold. The property owner is thwarted once again by devious legislators. Take a close look at your property tax bill. Neatly placed below your assessed value are these little gremlins and they are added to your ad valorem tax bill. Don’t forget the gas tax! Those of us (the vast majority) who operate gasoline-engine vehicles will pay a tax of almost 80 cents per gallon by July of this year. Never mind the bicycle riders and operators of electric vehicles who pay nothing. We, the gasoline-driving public, are solely paying for the road upkeep via the gas tax. Toll lanes are now making their presence in California. They are just another method of tax and spend. Also, a special toll for motorists entering certain downtown sectors of San Francisco has been considered more than once. The queen of the taxes (property taxes being the king) at least for San Francisco is the parking tax. What parking tax, you say? No, not the one you pay at a parking facility—though those are sky-high. In San Francisco this tax is neatly hidden. It’s better known as the SFMTA, aka meter maids! So you want residential parking permits where you reside? The SFMTA will gladly assist you. To park on the street where you live the City of San Francisco will charge you a minimum of $130 per year, per vehicle. That’s just the beginning of this nightmare. You will have signs posted on your street, “Residential Parking Permit required between 8 am and 9 pm” (two-hour parking allowed without the permit). The meter maids now invade your block at 8:30 am and mark all the cars that do not have the permit. They return between 10:30 am and 12 noon and there begins the terror of $100 parking tickets. And it is repeated all day long! T

The City That Knows How… to Tax, and Tax, and Tax

Commentary

“The city that knows how” was a great moniker that was attached to San Francisco at the end of World War I. Until the last three decades, it really was the city that knew how to get things done.

Several weeks ago, I attended a seminar on quality-of-life issues in San Francisco. One of the speakers was Peter Fatooh who, as president of San Francisco Property Tax Appeals, has been representing property owners in their over-assessment appeals with the city for decades.

After listening to Mr. Fatooh’s presentation, I thought it important to pass on the following information to those who might be questioning: Is this really the city that knows how, and if so, why is the cost of living so high there?

San Francisco, many years ago, had mayors and members of its board of supervisors who actually had common ground with property owners. Not since the 50s, 60s, and 70s have we witnessed such an affinity. To be clear, there were plenty of political fights over budgets and how to balance them, but at the end of the day, there was enough of a balance in the executive and legislative sides of city hall to temper the pinch on the backbone of city revenue, the property owner. Today, and for the past 30 years, it has been governance by finding more ways to tax the property owners. After all, it is the renters who control the vote in San Francisco so who needs the property owners?

Who needs the property owners may be the dismissive attitude of our local government, but in truth, the property owner is the goose laying the golden egg for the spenders at city hall.

Witness the burden on SF property owners and renters: (1) The sales tax in San Francisco is 8.625 percent—the state gets 7.25 percent and SF piles on another 1.375 percent. (2) Property tax annually assessed to all SF property owners: 1.182 percent of the assessed value of your property. If you are assessed at a value of $2M, you pay almost $24,000 annually! (3) The transfer tax is known as “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” as you are leaving the city. This is the tax San Francisco imposes on property owners who dare to sell their property! So, you have been paying an annual property tax and kept your property up over the years, and now you are selling it for maybe $2M or more. You will fork out from your hard-earned profit $15,000 and hand it over to the unmasked bandits at city hall. For what?

To add insult to injury, let’s say you purchased the property 10 years ago and, thanks to California Proposition 13, your property taxes were based on your initial purchase price of say $1M. You were paying the City approximately $12,000 in annual property taxes. Now, you sell for $2M. The city gets to reassess the property for the new owner. That new owner will pay the city an additional $12,000 annually over and above the $12,000 they were receiving prior to the sale. The city taxes you on your sale through the transfer tax and doubles the annual property taxes to the new owner. It’s a scam.

Oh, let’s not forget that other famous tax the property owners are bearing! It’s devilishly called the “parcel tax.” Tax increases in the State of California require a two-thirds approval by the voters. These parcel taxes have been ruled to not have to meet that voter threshold. The property owner is thwarted once again by devious legislators. Take a close look at your property tax bill. Neatly placed below your assessed value are these little gremlins and they are added to your ad valorem tax bill.

Don’t forget the gas tax! Those of us (the vast majority) who operate gasoline-engine vehicles will pay a tax of almost 80 cents per gallon by July of this year. Never mind the bicycle riders and operators of electric vehicles who pay nothing. We, the gasoline-driving public, are solely paying for the road upkeep via the gas tax.

Toll lanes are now making their presence in California. They are just another method of tax and spend. Also, a special toll for motorists entering certain downtown sectors of San Francisco has been considered more than once.

The queen of the taxes (property taxes being the king) at least for San Francisco is the parking tax. What parking tax, you say? No, not the one you pay at a parking facility—though those are sky-high. In San Francisco this tax is neatly hidden. It’s better known as the SFMTA, aka meter maids! So you want residential parking permits where you reside? The SFMTA will gladly assist you. To park on the street where you live the City of San Francisco will charge you a minimum of $130 per year, per vehicle. That’s just the beginning of this nightmare. You will have signs posted on your street, “Residential Parking Permit required between 8 am and 9 pm” (two-hour parking allowed without the permit). The meter maids now invade your block at 8:30 am and mark all the cars that do not have the permit. They return between 10:30 am and 12 noon and there begins the terror of $100 parking tickets. And it is repeated all day long! The SFMTA loves residential parking streets. It is dollars into the city’s coffers at almost no expense to the city because these tickets more than pay for the daily salaries of the meter maids and the cost of their little three-wheelers. Ponzi schemes pale in comparison to this legalized theft. Think about it: You reside on a street where you have to pay to park on it?

If there was equitable administration in this pay-to-park racket, residents of the street should be given free parking permits, and those who park on the block for extended periods and do not reside there would be the ones ticketed.

The “Healthy San Francisco” or “Employer Mandate” fee that you see added onto your restaurant bill as a percentage of the total is another tax required by the city so that restaurant owners can keep their workers enrolled in a city-mandated health care plan.

It’s been half a century since the mayor or board of supervisors cared about the taxpayer. Same for the state legislators from San Francisco. We spend billions on homelessness with zero or worse results. Our streets look terrible with encampments and trash everywhere. Yet they keep throwing more taxes on the people who pay the bills. One day soon the taxpaying public will have had enough and change their voting patterns to sweep the money-crazed rascals out.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Tony Hall is a former supervisor for San Francisco's District 7. He has held executive and administrative positions positions in seven different City departments in all three branches of government- Executive, Legislative, and Judicial over a 33 year period. He is also a highly regarded vocalist-entertainer in the Bay area.