It's Not So Complicated

By Erica C. Barnett July 9, 2009

I got hold of a copy of the form business have to fill out to pay the "head tax"—a $25-per-employee tax that pays for transportation projects (and exempts employees who don’t drive alone to work)—which some city officials, including city council members Tim Burgess and Richard Conlin, have called unnecessarily complicated. The length of the "excessively complicated" form: All of two pages.

Now, I'm no accountant, but I figured it out pretty easily: First, you write down the total number of employees. Then, if you have employees who get to work by transit, carpooling, biking or walking (in larger companies, that number can be ascertained by sending out a mass email), you subtract that number from the total. Then you multiply that number by $25 and subtract a $50 tax credit from that total. That's really it.

The formula becomes slightly more complicated for full-time hourly employees, but only in the sense that you need to know how many hours they work in a year (part-time employees' hours are determined by a formula). In all, I'd guess filling out the form would take far less time than your typical 1040.

So why are officials really opposing this tax? As Richard Conlin told me the other day, "It's perception. It's the same reason that in the national economic indicators, you have things like the consumer confidence index. We want businesses to believe it's going to be OK to expand."

Take a look at the form and decide for yourself here.

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