The D.C. Council has unanimously approved a $32.5 million tax break for daily deal purveyor LivingSocial as part of a deal that requires the company to stay in the District and hire city residents.
The positive vote did not come as much of a surprise as the measure has received broad support from council members and business community advocates alike. It must now be signed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).
The legislation — called the Social E-Commerce Job Creation Tax Incentive Act of 2012 — is part of a broader effort by the District’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to bolster the city’s technology community.
The council is currently considering separate legislation that would provide tax breaks and other financial incentives for technology companies and their investors.
“The tech industry is growing in importance in the District as it grows in importance worldwide, and the presence here of LivingSocial is a big part of the draw for other tech companies,” Gray said in a statement.
Members of the District’s technology community sent a letter to city officials on Friday that outlines ways in which city policies could benefit a broader swath of the tech sector. Those recommendations include renting office space to start-ups at below-market rates and the creation of a designated technology hub on city-owned land.
The legislation approved Tuesday provides LivingSocial with corporate and property tax abatements beginning in 2015. By then, the company expects to generate taxable income, add 1,000 local employees and consolidate its local workforce into a single office.
The legislation was drafted after lengthy negotiations with company officials, who have said that without a deal it would be more cost effective for the company to relocate to a neighboring jurisdiction with lower tax rates.
“As we have said all along, Washington, D.C. is LivingSocial’s home and in our DNA,” said company spokesman Brendan Lewis. “Final passage of this legislation ensures our company will continue to grow and prosper with the District, while helping to create a tech hub here in the Nation’s Capital.”
Despite having yet to turn a profit, LivingSocial has quickly become one of the city’s largest private sector employers. Its staff has swelled from four to 5,000 since 2007, about 1,000 of which are based in the District.
LivingSocial chief executive Tim O’Shaughnessy is the son-in-law of Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham.
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