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Business Registration

Business Registration Renewal - Click here for updated information

 

Every person or entity doing business in the City and County of San Francisco must possess a valid Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, as stated in Article 12A of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code. This code also applies to businesses located outside of San Francisco that perform business transactions or services in San Francisco. Click here for the ordinance defining conducting business in San Francisco.

Business Registration Certificates are issued on an annual basis and are valid for the City's fiscal year calendar, beginning on July 1st, and ending June 30th of the following year.

Any entity conducting business in San Francisco must submit a Business Tax Registration application within 15 days of starting business. Failure to do so will result in a late penalty equal to the amount of the original fee(s) plus an administrative fee(s) of either $55 (for businesses whose annual registration fee is $150 or higher) or $25 (for businesses who are eligible to pay the minimum $25 registration fee).

Existing business owners must renew their registration each year by the deadline of May 31 for the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1.

All businesses are required to file a Payroll Expense Tax Statement for their business annually by the last day of February for the prior calendar year (Jan. 1st - Dec. 31st) and must also renew their Business Registration Certificate for the next fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th) on or before May 31st if they plan to conduct business within the new fiscal year.

In addition, Hotel operators, parking operators, and utility providers may be required to collect and remit several third-party taxes to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector on a monthly or quarterly basis.

How to Register

All new businesses must complete a business registration form to obtain a Business Registration Certificate. The completed form and registration fees can be submitted in person or via mail, to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, City Hall - Room 140, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102-4638.

Download Registration Form:

Business Registration application (pdf)

 

Fictitious Business Name

If you will conduct business under a name other than your full legal name, the legal name of a corporation, or any name that suggests additional owners ("Jane Smith and Company", etc.), you must file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the County Clerk. Search the computer index at the County Clerk's office or the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector to be sure that the business name you have chosen is not already registered by another business or search online.

Registration for Apartment Buildings of 4 or More Units

For answers the most common questions regarding this requirement, please click here.
Hotel, Utility, and Parking Lot Operators

Hotel and Utility owners or operators must complete a Supplemental Business Tax Application, in addition to obtaining a Business Registration Certificate. Parking lot operators must complete an Application for Certificate of Authority to Collect Parking Taxes (COA), in addition to obtaining a Business Registration Certificate. For more information, please see Additional Tax Registration.

Stadium Operators and Roofers:

Please contact us at (415) 554-4400 for more information on your additional requirements. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM PST. You may also email us at Treasurer.Taxcollector@sfgov.org.

 

Registration Fees

Business Registration Fees are currently changing and are dependent on when a person commences business in San Francisco, as well as the type of business activities the person engages in.  Read below for more information about business registration fees.  Please note the effective dates for each fee schedule.  The appropriate fee must be paid for the current fiscal year at the time of registration.  Businesses that start in April or May must also pay the full registration fee for the upcoming fiscal year before May 31 to avoid penalties and fees.  Businesses that start between June 1 and June 30 must pay both fees at the time of registration.

Organizations having a formally recognized exemption from income taxation pursuant to Section 501(c), 501(d), or 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, as qualified by Sections 502, 503, 504, and 508 of the Internal Revenue Code, must register, but are not required to pay a registration fee unless the organization is also engaged within the City in an unrelated trade or business, provided that they can show proof from the IRS. Please see Nonprofit and Other Exempt Organizations for further details.

 

NOTE: California SB 1186 adds a state fee of $1 on any business application or renewal. When determining the registration fee, please add $1 to the amount.

 

BUSINESS REGISTRATION FEES IN EFFECT THROUGH JUNE 30, 2014

For new businesses commencing after December 12, 2012 and prior to June 30, 2014, the first year's registration fee is based on the tax due on its San Francisco payroll expense in the immediately preceding tax year. The tax rate on payroll expense for tax year 2013 is 1.5%.

Businesses that had less than $1 of tax on payroll expense (including businesses with no employees) within San Francisco in the immediately preceding tax year will pay the Minimum Registration Fee of $25, as noted in the table below.

 

Table #1: Business Registration Fees in effect through June 30, 2014

PAYROLL EXPENSE FOR THE IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING TAX YEAR (or no employees)

TAX DUE ON PAYROLL EXPENSE

FISCAL YEAR REGISTRATION FEE

Less than $ 66.67

Less than $ 1.00

$ 25.00 + $1 State Fee

$66.67 - $666,666.99

$1.00 - $10,000

$150.00 + $1 State Fee

$666,667 - $3,333,333.33

$10,000.01 - $50,000

$250.00 + $1 State Fee

$3,333,333.34 or More

More than $50,000

$500.00 + $1 State Fee

 

Note: The appropriate fee must be paid for the current fiscal year at the time of registration.  Businesses that start in April or May must also pay the full registration fee for the upcoming fiscal year before May 31 to avoid penalties and fees.  Businesses that start between June 1 and June 30 must pay both fees at the time of registration.

 

BUSINESS REGISTRATION FEES IN EFFECT JULY 1, 2014 THROUGH JUNE 30, 2015

For the registration year commencing on or after July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2015, the fee for obtaining a registration certificate for a newly established business shall be determined pursuant to Section 855(c) of Article 12 using the applicant's estimated San Francisco payroll expense under Article 12-A (Payroll Expense Tax Ordinance) for the tax year in which the person commences such business within the City.  The business registration fees for the registration year commencing on or after July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2015 are presented in Table #2 below:

 

Table #2: Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Business Registration Fees

 

 

San Francisco Payroll Expense for the Immediately Preceding Tax Year

Annual Registration Fee

$0 to $66.66

$75 + $1 State Fee

$66.67 to $75,000

$150 + $1 State Fee

$75,001 to $100,000

$250 + $1 State Fee

$100,001 to $150,000

$500 + $1 State Fee

$150,001 to $200,000

$700 + $1 State Fee

$200,001 to $250,000

$800 + $1 State Fee

$250,001 to $1,000,000

$300 + $1 State Fee

$1,000,001 to $2,500,000

$800 + $1 State Fee

$2,500,001 to $5,000,000

$5,000 + $1 State Fee

$5,000,001 to $10,000,000

$15,000 + $1 State Fee

$10,000,001 to $25,000,000

$25,000 + $1 State Fee

$25,000,001 to $40,000,000

$30,000 + $1 State Fee

$40,000,001 or more

$35,000 + $1 State Fee

 

Note: The appropriate fee must be paid for the current fiscal year at the time of registration.  Businesses that start in April or May must also pay the full registration fee for the upcoming fiscal year before May 31 to avoid penalties and fees.  Businesses that start between June 1 and June 30 must pay both fees at the time of registration.

 

BUSINESS REGISTRATION FEES COMMENCING ON OR AFTER JULY 1, 2015

For registration years commencing on or after July 1, 2015, the fee for obtaining a registration certificate for a newly established business shall be determined pursuant to Section 855(e) of Article 12 using the applicant's estimated gross receipts under Article 12-A-1 (Gross Receipts Tax Ordinance) for the tax year in which the person commences such business within the City.  Below are two schedules of Business Registration Fees applicable to newly established businesses.  One applies to newly established businesses required to report all of their gross receipts pursuant to Section 953.1 of Article 12-A-1 (applicable to the business activities of retail trade, wholesale trade and certain services, as defined in Section 953.1), and the other (“General Rule”) applies to all other newly established businesses.

 

Table #3: General Rule Business Registration Fees Commencing July 1, 2015

San Francisco Gross Receipts for the Immediately Preceding Tax Year

Annual Registration Fee

$0 to $100,000

$90 + $1 State Fee

$100,001 to $250,000

$150 + $1 State Fee

$250,001 to $500,000

$250 + $1 State Fee

$500,001 to $750,000

$500 + $1 State Fee

$750,001 to $1,000,000

$700 + $1 State Fee

$1,000,001 to $2,500,000

$300 + $1 State Fee

$2,500,001 to $7,500,000

$500 + $1 State Fee

$7,500,001 to $15,000,000

$1,500 + $1 State Fee

$15,000,001 to $25,000,000

$5,000 + $1 State Fee

$25,000,001 to $50,000,000

$12,500 + $1 State Fee

$50,000,001 to $100,000,000

$22,500 + $1 State Fee

$100,000,001 to $200,000,000

$30,000 + $1 State Fee

$200,000,001 and over

$35,000 + $1 State Fee

 

Table #4: Business Registration Fees for Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, and Certain Services Commencing July 1, 2015

San Francisco Gross Receipts for the Immediately Preceding Tax Year

Annual Registration Fee

$0 to $100,000

$75 + $1 State Fee

$100,001 to $250,000

$125 + $1 State Fee

$250,001 to $500,000

$200 + $1 State Fee

$500,001 to $750,000

$400 + $1 State Fee

$750,001 to $1,000,000

$600 + $1 State Fee

$1,000,001 to $2,500,000

$200 + $1 State Fee

$2,500,001 to $7,500,000

$400 + $1 State Fee

$7,500,001 to $15,000,000

$1,125 + $1 State Fee

$15,000,001 to $25,000,000

$3,750 + $1 State Fee

$25,000,001 to $50,000,000

$7,500 + $1 State Fee

$50,000,001 to $100,000,000

$15,000 + $1 State Fee

$100,000,001 to $200,000,000

$20,000 + $1 State Fee

$200,000,001 and over

$30,000 + $1 State Fee

 

 

NEWLY ESTABLISHED BUSINESS FEE PRORATION

Commencing July 1, 2014, new businesses that register after the beginning of the registration year will have their registration fees prorated, except for those who qualify for the minimum registration fee.  Business Registration Certificates are issued on an annual basis and are valid for the City's fiscal year, beginning on July 1st and ending June 30th of the following year.

Table #6: New Business Registration Fee Proration Calendar

BUSINESS START DATE

PRORATED FEE

July 1 - September 30

100% of the fee

October 1 - December 31

75% of the fee

January 1 - March 31

50% of the fee

April 1 - June 30

25% of the fee

 

How To Make the Payment

All new business registration forms must be accompanied by a check , cash (in person) or money order payment. Please make the check payable to San Francisco Tax Collector and submit the fees and registration form in person or via mail, to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, City Hall - Room 140, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102-4638.

Use the table below to determine your business class.

Class Description   Class Description

01

Commission Merchant or Broker

 

09

Storage, Freight Forwarding

02

Building Contractor

 

10

Telephone, Gas, Electric, Steam, Railroad Services

03

Hotels, Apartments, etc.

 

11

Transporting Persons for Hire

04

Laundry, Cleaning, & Dyeing, Agents, etc.

 

12

Trucking-Hauling

05

Lending Money, etc.

 

13

Wholesale Sales

06

Personal Property Rental

 

15

Architects and Engineers

07

Other Businesses (Most Services)

 

16

Nonprofit Garage Corporations

08

Retail Sales

 

00

Fixed Place of Business

Professional Business Class (PBC Code):  We will complete the code if you are sending in your application.

Nonprofit and Other Exempt Organizations

Nonprofit and other exempt organizations may be exempt from the registration fee, payroll expense tax, and/or gross receipts tax, but must still register with the Tax Collector.  These entities must file a Declaration of Exemption with the Tax Collector and provide documentation to substantiate their exempt status. For instance, nonprofits must provide a copy of the statement from the Internal Revenue Service verifying exempt status under Section 501(c), 501(d), or 401(a) of Title 26 of the United States Code as qualified by Sections 502, 503, 504, and 508. 

How to Change Your Mailing Address or Business Location

If you would like to change your mailing address, business location, or both on your Business Registration Certificate, you will need to go to Business Account Update. For questions, please contact Taxpayer Assistance at (415) 554-4400, Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM PST, or by email treasurer.taxcollector@sfgov.org.

How to Add an Additional DBA or Location

To add an additional DBA (business name) or location, you will need to you will need to go to Business Account Update. For questions, please contact Taxpayer Assistance at (415) 554-4400, Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM PST, or by email treasurer.taxcollector@sfgov.org.

Buying or taking ownership of an existing business

The San Francisco Business Tax and Regulations Code, Section 6.21-1, provides that a no person shall purchase or acquire an interest in a business subject to any tax imposed under Articles 7, 9 or 12-A of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code without first obtaining either a receipt from the Tax Collector showing that all of the seller's taxes on the business have been paid, or a certificate stating that no amount is due.  This requirement also includes voluntary transfers of ownership where no form of currency or payment is exchanged.

If a buyer purchases or acquires an interest in a business owing any taxes, interest or penalties, the buyer shall withhold from the purchase price and pay to the Tax Collector a sufficient amount to satisfy said taxes, interest and penalties.  A buyer who purchases or acquires an interest in a business in violation of this Section, shall become personally liable for the amount of taxes, interest and penalties owed on the business.

Closing A Business

When a business is sold, closed, or moved out of San Francisco, the Business Tax Registration Certificate must be inactivated. Complete and sign the Declaration of Closed Business or Change in Ownership form and submit it to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector in person or by mail. If you will be abandoning the company's fictitious business name with the County Clerk's office, you will need to obtain a Temporary Verification of Registration from the Treasurer & Tax Collector's office indicating the business closing date.

In addition, a final Payroll Expense Tax statement with payment, if applicable, is due immediately upon the selling or closing of a business. Accounting records and reports should be available for audit or review.

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