Cupertino company tax vote delayed, decision could be made in 2020

After hearing strong opposition from the community, city leaders in Cupertino voted Tuesday night to delay a decision on a proposed ballot measure that could change the way big companies like Apple are taxed.

The council unanimously voted against a head tax, which is a tax based on the number of employees in a company. Companies with more than 1,000 employees like Apple would have had to pay up to $425 per worker.

Right now, the city of Cupertino taxes businesses on their square footage, which generates about $800,000 a year. Some city leaders said a head tax could bring up to $10 million a year. Supporters like Paul Heller want that money to be used to help improve traffic congestion.

“We do need more help,” said Pete Heller of Mountain View. “It's great that Apple is willing to step up but we need to make it faster.”

“We are not opposed to raising revenue to pay for services, but it has to be done in a systematic and strategic way and this is not that,” said Matt Regan of the Bay Area Council. 

The Bay Area Council said the tax is short-sighted and narrow and the region's traffic problem needs a regional fix.

Many opponents also voiced the tax could make it harder for jobs to come back to Cupertino in the next economic downtown as companies will look elsewhere.

“It sends a message to the business community at large,” said Regan. “Cupertino is not open for business and not a business-friendly city.”

In a letter to the city, Apple did not specifically address the head tax, but stated it's invested $70 million in Cupertino since its headquarters was built. The company now hopes to work with the city on creative transportation solutions.

“We are ready to meet next week and get everyone in the same room to start that conversation,” said Apple’s Director for State and Local Government Affairs Michael Foulkes.