Demonstrators Protest Tax Exemptions Outside Of Twitter HQ

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Protesters holding hashtag decorated signs reading “Shame On Twitter” and “Respect Our Communities” gathered outside of Twitter headquarters at 795 Folsom this morning to protest what they see as an unfair requests for a tax exemption and other concessions made by Twitter to the city of San Francisco. The protests have since dissipated.

The demonstrations were called by an organization called the South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN) that aims to represent poor and underserved communities. SOMCAN also asked protesters to tweet “SHAME on YOU!” for being “socially irresponsible” at Twitter in addition to picketing in real life. Even though about 50 people showed up in person, thus far no tweets have been sent.

The entire startup tax breaks and perks issue is pretty thorny, and it’s difficult to pick a side. “I like startups. I hate corporate tax breaks. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO THINK ABOUT THESE TWITTER PROTESTS AGGGGHHHH,” tweeted VentureBeat’s Anthony Ha. I feel pretty much the same way.

Twitter had originally asked for a complete payroll tax exemption if it moved its office to the blighted Mid-Market/Tenderloin, arguing that it could save¬†$30 million over 5 years by moving from SF to a suburb like Brisbane. The city countered with a proposal that the 1.5% tax exemption would only hold for new hires, which might explain yesterday’s hiring spree.

The six-year payroll tax suspension measure, which would go beyond Twitter to cover other companies consider Mid-Market/Tenderloin move, comes up to the Board of Supervisors for voting on April 5th. Twitter has signed a letter of intent to stay in San Francisco if the tax break goes into effect.

Images and video: Matt Schlicht