Penalty Waiver / Refund Request

COVID-19 Penalty Waivers

If you were unable to pay your property taxes by the May 15, 2020 deadline because of the COVID-19 crisis, we encourage you to submit an online request for a penalty waiver below. If approved, you will be able pay your bill without the 10% late payment penalty and $45 administrative fee. As a result of the Governor's Executive Order N-61-20if you are approved for a waiver and you were unable to pay your property taxes for your primary residence or small business because of the COVID-19 crisis, you will have until May 6, 2021 to pay your bill without incurring any late payment penalties.

Any taxpayer who was unable to pay their property taxes by the May 15, 2020 deadline because of the COVID-19 crisis is eligible for a penalty waiver for the second installment due on May 15, 2020 only.  You must apply, and you will still be responsible for paying the full amount of your property tax bill. Once granted, the waiver eliminates the 10% late payment penalty and $45 administrative fee that would otherwise be imposed. Your unpaid property tax bill will begin to accrue 1.5% “redemption” penalties each month after June 30th, 2020, as well as a $55 administrative fee.

The Governor issued Executive Order N-61-20 which only applies to you if you are paying the taxes for your primary residence or small business. If you are granted a waiver for your primary residence or small business, your waiver will extend the deadline to pay your May 15, 2020 bill without any late payment penalties until May 6, 2021. You must pay any other delinquent bills before you qualify for this penalty waiver. If you are seeking relief under Executive Order N-61-20, you must apply for the waiver and pay your bill on or before May 6, 2021.

 

What does “primary residence” mean?

If your property tax bill includes the “homeowners exemption” and you have a COVID-19 related hardship, you will qualify for relief under Executive Order N-61-20.

 If you do not have the homeowners exemption, you can still qualify for relief if you are a property owner, co-owner or a purchaser named in a contract of sale and you occupy your home as your principal place of residence. You can’t qualify if the property is rented, vacant and unoccupied, or your vacation or secondary home.

What is considered a small business?

You must meet the criteria of a small business as defined by the Small Business Administration’s Regulations, Code of Federal Regulations, Title 13, section 121.201. When you apply for a penalty waiver, we will ask you to include your Business Account Number (BAN) which you can find on your San Francisco Business Registration Certificate. If you don’t have a BAN, or we can’t validate your small business status we will contact you to get more information about your business.

Select a button below for the relevant Property Tax Waiver Request. You will need to explain your COVID-19 related hardship, and if applicable, tell us the property is your primary residence or your small business. You can’t apply until after the tax deadline has passed, and you must apply once for each bill.

I impound my property taxes as part of my mortgage payment to my bank.  What does this mean for me? You should continue to make your payments to the bank.  Impounded property tax payments are not eligible for COVID-19 related penalty waivers. Companies who hold onto your impounded payments all year are also not eligible for a COVID-19 related penalty waiver.  

What if I already paid my property taxes but want a refund due to a COVID-19 related hardship? We cannot refund your payment due to COVID-19 related hardship.

I already applied for a waiver but I wasn’t asked about my primary residence or small business status. Should I apply again? No. If you applied for a waiver after May 15th 2020 because of a COVID-19 related hardship and you have a homeowners exemption you will be approved for the Executive Order N-61-20. You do not need to take any action. If you do not have the homeowner’s exemption we will be reaching out to see if you qualify for Executive Order N-61-20relief.

What should I do if I was approved for a waiver but can’t pay by the deadline in my approval letter? You do not need to take any further action. Your bill will begin accruing penalties after your approved waiver deadline until the bill is paid in full. The initial penalties waived in your approval letter will remain waived.

If I was granted a waiver for paying my property taxes after May 15, 2020 due to COVID-19, will that qualification automatically be accepted for, and applied to, the December 2020 and April 2021 deadline? No. You must apply for a waiver for each bill that you can’t pay due to a COVID-19 related hardship.

What if my request for penalty waiver is denied? If you do not agree with the decision, you may be entitled to file a claim with the Office of the City Attorney. The forms are available online at http://www.sfcityattorney.org.

Do Not Apply for Penalty Waivers Before the Tax Deadline

 If you paid more than once, or overpaid your property tax bill, your refund will be processed automatically in the order it is received. You do not need to take any additional action. Please allow 4-6 months for processing and be assured every effort will be made to process the refund as quickly as possible.

The Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector will review all other requests in accordance with the California Revenue & Taxation Code which allow the Office to waive or cancel penalties, costs, fees or interest in certain, limited cases.

The waiver review process may take up to six weeks.  Unpaid balances will continue to accrue additional penalties and interest which are the responsibility of the tax payers should  the waiver request be denied.

We encourage taxpayers to provide any documentation supporting their waiver request.  You will have an opportunity to upload your supporting documents during the DocuSign process at the end of the application.

  • Failure to make a timely payment is due to reasonable cause and circumstances beyond the taxpayer's control, and occurred notwithstanding the exercise of ordinary care in the absence of willful neglect; or
  • There was an inadvertent error in the payment amount made by the taxpayer, and payment for the proper amount due is made within 10 days.
  • Did not receive a notice or bill
  • Forgot to file and/or pay
  • Not knowing Personal Identification Number (PIN) or Location Identification Number (LIN)
  • First late payment
  • Responsible person is no longer with the company
  • Payment arrived after delinquent date with no postmark from US Postal Service
  • Confused by bill, unsure of what to pay

When should I expect a decision to be made?

Waiver requests are processed in the order that they are received. Normal processing time is about 6 weeks, but may be longer after deadlines.

How will I know the decision? Should I call?

No, there is no need to call unless it has been more than twelve weeks from your submission date. The Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector will contact you by mail with a final decision.

If my request for waiver is approved I will have an overpayment on my account. What should I do?

This request for waiver constitutes a request for refund, so if your waiver is granted and you have an overpayment on your account, we will consider it a request for refund and will process it. 

What if I haven’t paid and get a waiver?

Our office encourages taxpayers to pay all outstanding tax bills. Penalties and interest will continue to accrue on all unpaid obligations.

If my waiver request is denied, is there an appeal process?

If you do not agree with the decision, you may be entitled to file a claim with the Office of the City Attorney. The forms are available online at http://www.sfcityattorney.org

Who makes the decision to approve or deny my waiver request?

The California Revenue & Taxation Code and the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code are very specific about circumstances under which the Tax Collector is allowed to waive penalties. By law, we are required to use these standards when reviewing all requests.

Should I also send my request through the mail/email?

No. Submitting a request via the online web form is the fastest way to ensure we have received your request. Submitting duplicate requests, either by mail or electronically, may cause delays.

Is there a file size limit?

The total of all attachments may not exceed 25MB.

 

Need Further Assistance?

Visit our Help Center to submit a question.  Questions submitted before 7:00 pm will receive a response on the SAME DAY. Questions submitted after 7:00 pm will receive a response by the next business day.