New Business Registration Instructions

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New Business Registration Instructions

About San Francisco Business Registration

About San Francisco Business Registration

Do I need to register my business?

San Francisco’s Business and Tax Regulations Code requires that every person engaging in business within the City, regardless of whether such person is subject to taxation, must register within 15 days after commencing business within the City. Upon approval of your application, the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector will send a registration certificate, which must be conspicuously displayed at your place of business.

Unless otherwise required, you do not need to register if your only business is the receipt of rental income in connection with the operation of any of the following:

  1. A cooperative housing corporation, as defined in Section 216(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
  2. One residential structure consisting of fewer than four units; or
  3. One residential condominium.

A single-member entity (including a single-member limited liability company) treated as a disregarded entity for federal income tax purposes will be disregarded for purposes of the Business Registration requirements. Each such entity will be treated as a sole proprietorship, branch, or division of its owner. The owner of the disregarded entity will be the registrant.

 

How often must I renew my Business Registration?

Business Registration must be renewed each year by May 31st and is effective July 1st. Business Registration is valid from July 1st – June 30th.

 

How much does it cost to register my business?

Business Registration Fees for new businesses are based on your anticipated gross receipts for the current calendar year. For detailed information, see: section II, Completing the Application; and section IV, Rate Schedule / Fee Calculation.

 

Is the information on this application confidential?

The following information you provide will be available to the public via DataSF.org, listed on your registration certificate, and/or available through public record requests:

  • Business/Ownership Name
  • Business Start Date
  • Mailing Address
  • Business Account Number
  • DBA Name
  • Business Activity Code / NAICS code
  • Third party tax collection (i.e. if your business is subject to collection or remittance of parking tax or transient occupancy tax)
  • Location Address
  • Location Start Date
  • License code (if applicable)

All other information provided is considered confidential and treated in accordance with applicable laws.

 

Completing the Application

Completing the Application

Business Information

Name - The name(s) your organization is using to conduct business in San Francisco. For sole proprietors and general partnerships not registered with the Secretary of State, this will be the name of the individual owner(s). For other entities, provide the entity name as registered with the California Secretary of State.

Business Tax ID - A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws:

Social Security Number (SSN) - For sole proprietors, the business identification number may be the same as the individual’s Social Security Number (SSN) or TIN, if applicable.

Federal Identification Number (FEIN, a.k.a. EIN) - An FEIN is required for all partnerships, corporations, and LLCs (single-member LLCs without an FEIN may use a SSN). This number is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) - An ITIN is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get an SSN.

Organization Type - Describes the way your business entity is formed. For more information about the organization types listed, please consult http://businessportal.sfgov.org/ or discuss with your tax professional.

Start Date in SF - The date the entity started business activity in San Francisco. Future start dates are not permitted.

Ownership Details - Owners have the authority to make changes to the business account.

Owner Name - For owners that are general partnerships not registered with the Secretary of State, list the full names of all partners. For all other owners that are entities, provide the entity name as registered with the Secretary of State. For a trust, list the trustee as the owner.

Owner Tax ID Number (SSN, FEIN, TIN) - All businesses, including nonprofits, are required to list the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) of at least one owner. A TIN is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) - For sole proprietors, the business identification number may be the same as the individual’s Social Security Number (SSN) or TIN, if applicable.
  • Federal Identification Number (FEIN, a.k.a. EIN) - An FEIN is required for all partnerships, corporations, and LLCs (single-member LLCs without an FEIN may use a SSN). This number is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) - An ITIN is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get an SSN.

Email Address, Phone #, Mailing Address, City, State, ZIP - Contact information for each owner listed.

Officer Information - Business Officers are individuals such as a corporate officer, general or managing partner, board member or member of the registering business. Officers listed on the business registration application have the authority to make changes to the business account. This information is not required and can be kept blank.

Contact Information - Keeping contact information up-to-date is critical in order to receive notices from this Office. All tax information will be sent to this person at the associated address. To update this information after you have received a business registration certificate, please visit: https://etaxstatement.sfgov.org/accountupdate/.

Recipient Name - Full name of the primary person responsible for tax matters.

Email/ Phone Number - Email address and business phone number for the contact person listed. Email will be used to send tax filing documents and correspondence.

Mailing Address - The business mailing address is the ONLY address to which this office will mail documents and correspondence including personal identification number (PIN) to file and pay taxes, business licenses, notifications to renew your business registration, and refunds. Any valid mailing address (including a postal box) is acceptable. A business can only have one mailing address. This address does not need to be located in San Francisco.

Location Information

Location Name, Trade Name or DBA - Each location name, fictitious business name (“FBN”), or DBA (“Doing Business As”) name should be listed as a separate location. If the Location Name is the same as your Business Name, list your Business Name on this line. After registering with the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, all businesses with one or more locations in San Francisco and using an FBN must register the name with the County Clerk (City Hall, Room 168; 415-554-4950).

Start Date in SF - The date the registrant started business activity in San Francisco at this location. Future start dates are not permitted.

Tax/Fee Types - Select all applicable tax/fee types for the particular location. Failure to select an applicable tax or fee type may result in penalties and interest. Some tax types, such as third party taxes for transient occupancy operators, parking operators, and utility providers, have additional requirements. For more information about these requirements, visit the More Taxes and Fees tab.

Note: A short-term residential rental host (“host”) is a person that receives rent in exchange for providing short-term (less than 30 days) accommodations in a residential structure. Some hosts receive payment of rent via a website company, while others receive payment directly from the guest. If you select "yes," you will be prompted to answer some additional questions at the end of the application.

Business Activities

Using the categories provided, select all applicable business activities at each location in San Francisco, regardless of the amount of gross receipts that the business activity is expected to generate. This information may be shared publicly and used for published information about business activity in San Francisco.

For more information on the business activities codes (NAICS codes) listed, go to http://sftreasurer.org/NAICS.

Note: categories added to NAICS for SF Use are 4 & 6 - “Biotechnology” and “Clean Technology” businesses are described in sections 906.1 and 906.2 of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code, respectively.

If you are engaged in any business activities not listed, check the box next to line 20, and describe the activity or activities in the space provided.

Estimated SF Payroll Expense - The estimated amount of San Francisco payroll expense expected during the current calendar year. Article 12-A of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code provides rules for determining San Francisco payroll expense.

Estimated SF Gross Receipts - The estimated amount of San Francisco gross receipts expected during the current calendar year. In general, "gross receipts" includes the total amounts received or accrued by a person from whatever source derived, including, but not limited to, amounts derived from sales, services, dealings in property, interest, rent, royalties, dividends, licensing fees, other fees, commissions and distributed amounts from other business entities. For assistance in estimating your gross receipts, please refer to pages 1 through 21 of the Gross Receipts Tax Worksheet (excluding Worksheet Appendix A), available at http://sftreasurer.org/grossreceipts.

Does this business receive rental income from one building consisting of four or more residential units?

A lessor of residential real estate (landlord) is required to submit a separate Business Registration Application for each building with four or more residential rental units. Buildings that meet this criteria may not be included on the same application as different locations, and may not be included on the same application as different business activities, whether at this location or other locations. Lessors of residential real estate may exclude 50% of the amounts received from rent-controlled units when calculating gross receipts.

Are you establishing the business to be a vendor (City Bidder/Supplier) or participate in procurement processes with the City and County of San Francisco?

Selecting "yes" enables the business to be set up to receive payments from the City and County of San Francisco as a vendor or grantee. Visit http://sfgov.org/oca for more information on how to qualify to do business with the City.

Are you Exempt from the Registration Fee?

Any organization or person documenting the following shall not be required to pay a registration fee unless the organization is also engaged within the City in an unrelated trade or business within the meaning of Section 906 of Article 12-A or Section 954 of Article 12-A-1:

  1. Any organization having a formally recognized exemption from income taxation pursuant to Section 501(c), 501(d) or 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended,
  2. As qualified by Sections 502, 503, 504 and 508 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
  3. A person receiving rental income in connection with the operation of a cooperative housing corporation, as defined in Section 216(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; one residential structure consisting of fewer than four units; or one residential condominium.

A person shall be exempt from paying the registration fee required by this Section if and to the extent that, and only so long as, federal or state law prohibits the imposition of the registration fee upon such person. If you select this box, a staff person will follow up to request your proof of tax-exempt status before your application can be processed.

Short Term Residential Rental

Short Term Residential Rental

If your business includes a Short Term Residential Rental, you will be prompted to select the tax remittance category that applies to your business.

A short-term residential rental host (“host”) is a person that receives rent in exchange for providing short-term (less than 30 days) accommodations in a residential structure. Some hosts receive payment of rent via a website company, while others receive payment directly from the guest. All of these transactions are subject to San Francisco tax laws. http://sftreasurer.org/tot.

Some hosts may be eligible for a refund of the business registration fee. If your business qualifies for a refund, it will be processed automatically. You do not need to take any action.

A Qualified Website Company (“QWC”) has the authority to collect and remit TOT (tax) on behalf of short-term residential rental hosts.

San Francisco Qualified Website Companies
Airbnb since 09/29/2015
HostWell since 02/01/2018

If all rent is received through a QWC, the QWC collects and remits all TOT (tax) for your business.

Rental income not received through a QWC must be taxed and remitted to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector either annually or monthly. If some or none of your rent is received through a QWC, you will be asked about Small Operator designation and Filing Frequency. Small Operators may file annually if the combined gross receipts from rental income is $250,000 or less for all locations and no location has rental income greater than $40,000. Small Operators do not require a Certificate of Authority.

Registration Fees

Registration Fees

Business Registration Fees for new businesses are based on anticipated gross receipts for the current calendar year, and the business activity types selected. Use Schedule B if your business consists solely of the business activities of Certain Services (e.g. Repair/Maintenance, Personal/Laundry, Civic Orgs), Retail Trade, and/or Wholesale Trade (described on page 1 of the Application).  If your business does anything else, use Schedule A.

Business Registration Fees for the registration year ending June 30.

2017 San Francisco Gross Receipts 2018 Schedule A 2018 Schedule B 2019 Schedule A 2019 Schedule B State Fee
$0 to $100,000 $90 $75 $95 $79 $4
$100,001 to $250,000 $155 $125 $159 $133 $4
$250,001 to $500,000 $255 $205 $266 $213 $4
$500,001 to $750,000 $515 $410 $532 $426 $4
$750,001 to $1,000,000 $720 $620 $745 $639 $4
$1,000,001 to $2,500,000 $310 $205 $319 $213 $4
$2,500,001 to $7,500,000 $515 $410 $532 $426 $4
$7,500,001 to $15,000,000 1,550 $1,160 $1,598 $1,198 $4
$15,000,001 to $25,000,000 $5,175 $3,880 $5,327 $3,995 $4
$25,000,001 to $50,000,000 $12,935 $7,760 $13,319 $7,991 $4
$50,000,001 to $100,000,000 $23,285 $15,525 $23,974 $15,982 $4
$100,000,001 to $200,000,000 $31,050 $20,700 $31,965 $21,310 $4
$200,000,001 and over $36,225 $31,050 $37,293 $31,965 $4

For businesses that qualify as Administrative Offices, the following Business Registration Fees apply for the registration year ending June 30.

2017 SAN FRANCISCO PAYROLL EXPENSE 2018 AOT RATE 2019 AOT RATE STATE FEE
$0 to $2,500,000 $15,525 $15,982 $4
$2,500,001 to $25,000,000 $25,875 $26,638 $4
$25,000,001 or more $36,225 $37,293 $4

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 for Schedule A ($90) or Schedule B ($75) and AOT Rate ($15,525).  

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

 

Submitting the Application

Submitting the Application

Signature Requirements

The Business Registration Application must be signed by the business registering (including an officer, general partner, member manager, executor, trustee, fiduciary, or other individual with the authority to bind the registrant), or an agent of the registrant authorized to sign this form on behalf of the registrant pursuant to a validly executed San Francisco Power of Attorney Declaration. This form can be found at http://sftreasurer.org. Businesses applying online will receive an email from the vendor “DocuSign” with the subject line "E-Signature – New Business Application". Your electronic signature is the final authorization needed to create a new business tax account. Once signed, you will be emailed a signed PDF version of the application for your records.

If you do not e-sign your application, you will receive reminder emails every three days. After 10 days the application will be deleted and you will need to complete a new form should you wish to open your business.

Payment - Unless exempt from the Registration Fee, all Business Registration Applications must be submitted with payment.

Online - Businesses applying online will receive an email with the subject line "Payment Required - New Business Application" Follow the instructions within the email to access the payment system to pay applicable registration fees.  If you pay online, you will receive a confirmation email with your Business Account Number (BAN). You will receive your Business Certificate and additional information about operating in San Francisco in the mail within 3 weeks.

Mail - To submit payment via mail, print out the payment coupon you receive and mail it in with a check payable to the San Francisco Tax Collector:

Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector
P.O. Box 7425
San Francisco, CA 94120

A Business Registration Certificate will be mailed within 3 weeks once application is submitted and payment processed.