Cruise car in Hayes Valley, San Francisco

GM suing San Francisco to refund over $108 million in Cruise taxes

Credit: Cruise

General Motors (GM) is suing the city of San Francisco for allegedly taxing the automaker unfairly by using its self-driving unit Cruise to subject the company to $108 million in taxes over a seven-year period.

Last week, GM filed a lawsuit against San Francisco — dubbed General Motors Co. v. City and County of San Francisco — claiming that the Northern California city used its subsidiary Cruise to link its taxes to the automaker’s worldwide revenue (via Automotive News). Doing so resulted in over $3 billion of GM’s revenue becoming subject to San Francisco taxes, although the automaker argued that Cruise is completely separate from the parent company.

In addition, GM said that it shouldn’t be subject to the tax since Cruise only began making a small amount of revenue last year.

“GM’s core automotive business does not employ anyone in the city, has no plants or other physical locations in the city, has no dealerships in the city, and sells only a de minimis amount of retail goods (approximately $677,000 in 2022) in the city,” the automaker wrote in the complaint.

The automaker also noted that many of its employees work remotely from outside of San Francisco, despite the city being home to Cruise’s initial driverless operations.

Beyond the tax refund of $108 million, GM is requesting the recovery of $13 million in interest and penalties. The automaker also said in its complaint that California mandates that taxes should “fairly reflect” business conducted in a given city, adding that San Francisco’s taxation of Cruise was “inherently distortive.”

Following the filing, a San Francisco attorney said that the case was being reviewed, adding that the city would respond in court.

The news comes after a long series of bad news for Cruise throughout the latter half of this year, much of which revolves around an accident in early October in which one of the company’s self-driving vehicles hit and pinned a pedestrian after she had been struck by another vehicle with a human driver.

Following the incident, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) immediately revoked Cruise’s license to operate driverless vehicles, and the company has been facing both federal and state investigations.

Although Cruise had been planning to roll out test vehicles in cities across the U.S., those plans were put on pause after the San Francisco accident. Cruise also recalled almost 1,000 of its Chevy Bolt self-driving cars due to the failure of the vehicle’s post-crash response in the October 2 incident.

Additionally, GM halted production of the Cruise Origin self-driving van, former CEO Kyle Vogt resigned alongside other executives, and more recently, the company terminated nine prominent project leaders as part of a larger, 24-percent reduction in total staff.

Cruise announces reduced operations, further delays to Origin production

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GM suing San Francisco to refund over $108 million in Cruise taxes
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