The position of San Francisco Treasurer is an elective office created by the City Charter in 1850. In July 1979, a charter amendment added the office and duties of Tax Collector to the Treasurer’s responsibilities. The Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector serves as the banker, collection agent, and investment officer for the government of San Francisco, the only combined city and county in the state of California. The Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector serves two basic functions for the citizens of the City and County of San Francisco:
- The collection of taxes and other city and county revenue. Through mail, in person in the City Payment Center, and now through the Internet, the Office collects and deposits taxes and other obligations paid to the City, including business taxes, property taxes, and fees for various business licenses and permits that are required by the Municipal Code. Tax Collection units collect over $5 billion annually in property taxes, business taxes, and license fees. Additionally, the Office investigates and collects unreported and delinquent tax obligations. Through the City Payment Center and the SFGov on-line City Services website, the Office contracts to collect current and delinquent obligations owed to other City Departments, such as the Water Department and Department of Public Health.
The conservation and oversight of monies before disbursement. The Treasurer manages all city funds in order to gain the maximum return with low risk and high liquidity, including investing the City’s portfolio of pooled funds. The Treasurer works with all City departments to ensure that funds are received, deposited, and reconciled as quickly and accurately as possible, so as to provide maximum interest and investment returns for the people of San Francisco. The Office administers and monitors the deposit accounts and wire transactions of all City agencies and contracts with banks for financial services. The Office also disburses payments on the City’s General Obligation municipal bonds.
Expanding Services to City Partners
The Office serves as the City’s banker, tax and delinquent revenue collector, and continues to utilize these core services to better meet the needs of various City and County agencies. The Office collaborated with the Department of Public Health to become first county in the state to launch online permitting for restaurants. This significantly shortened the time it takes to get a permit and modernized the process while improving efficiency and quality. At a time when many services are moving outside of the city's purview, our processing of payments (lockbox) is becoming a central service that many departments are using due to our cost effectiveness and ability to integrate with multiple systems. We now serve: Municipal Transportation Agency, Public Utilities Commission, Department of Public Health, Port and many others. The Office also has taken over new delinquent collections for many departments, and has led efforts to centralize electronic payments and issue a citywide policy to ensure that all departments meet credit card industry standards related to security and processing.
Implementing New Taxes
The Office swiftly implemented new taxes that were approved by voters in 2018, including the Early Care and Education Commercial Rents Tax and the Homelessness Gross Receipts Tax. These implementations did not require any additional funding or staff positions.
Creating Equitable Opportunities for Everyone
Over the past year, the Financial Justice Project has worked with city partners on a multitude of reforms of fines and fees that disparately impact low-income communities of color. Highlights include lifting more than $32.7 million in debt from 21,000 people’s unpaid criminal justice administrative fees, eliminating public library fines on overdue materials in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library, and clearing 88,000 cases of suspended driver’s licenses for people who failed to appear in traffic court. The most recent accomplishment involved partnering with the Mayor and Sheriff to make all phone calls in San Francisco’s jails completely free for incarcerated individuals, which national research shows can increase safety in jails, reduce recidivism rates, and improve the reentry process for people exiting the criminal justice system.
The Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force, staffed by our Office, released the first report of its kind to outline the financial costs and benefits of creating a municipal public bank. This detailed analysis will allow policymakers to determine whether to pursue a municipal bank, and our Office will share this knowledge with jurisdictions across the country to harness the collective power of cities.
The Office of Financial Empowerment’s Smart Money Coaching program served more than 2,100 City social service clients, and opened services to the broader public. Our Kindergarten to College (K2C) Program celebrated that families have saved more than $4 million dollars for college through the program. Families savings have grown each year since the program’s inception. K2C also served as a model for Governor Newsom’s newly created $50 million statewide Child Savings Account program.
- Implement Early Care and Education Commercial Rents Tax and the Homelessness Gross Receipts Tax
- Begin Cannabis Tax collection
- Renew our focus on customer service and taxpayer compliance, including launching a new website
- Expand Smart Money Coaching and consumer protection to more in our community, including our small businesses
José Cisneros, Treasurer
José Cisneros is the elected Treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco. As Treasurer, he serves as the City’s banker and Chief Investment Officer, managing all tax and revenue collection for San Francisco. Appointed in 2004, and first elected in 2005, Cisneros has used his experience in the tech and banking industries to enhance and modernize taxpayer systems and successfully manage the City’s portfolio through a major recession.
Treasurer Cisneros believes that his role of safeguarding the City’s money extends to all San Francisco residents, and continues to expand his role as a financial educator and advocate for low-income San Franciscans through award-winning programs like Kindergarten to College, Bank On San Francisco and the Financial Justice Project. Cisneros served as Vice Chair on the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, and is currently Co-Chair of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition.
Prior to his role as Treasurer, Treasurer Cisneros served as Deputy General Manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. In this capacity, he managed MUNI’s $7 billion capital program designed to repair, replace and enhance system assets – including the 3rd Street Rail extension serving Chinatown, Mission Bay and the residents of Bay View and Hunters Point. Before working at MUNI, Treasurer Cisneros served as a member of the MTA Board of Directors and was instrumental in creating Proposition E, the Muni Reform Charter Amendment.
Treasurer Cisneros has a strong business background in the private sector, previously working for IBM Corporation and Lotus Development Corporation as a Senior International Product Manager. Prior to this, he was an Assistant Vice President at Bank of Boston where he managed financial product portfolios valued at over $100 million.
Treasurer Cisneros lives with his husband in San Francisco. He received his Bachelor of Science from Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Tajel Shah, Chief Assistant Treasurer
As Chief Assistant Treasurer, Tajel Shah serves as Deputy to José Cisneros and manages investments, banking, cashiering, budget, solutions management, IT and human resources for the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector.
Ms. Shah joined the organization in January 2008. Prior to joining the Treasurer & Tax Collector, she managed policy and planning for the Department of Children, Youth and their Families for several years. Ms. Shah comes to the office with a unique blend of public and private sector experience, which includes leading global expansion for Organic Inc. – an internet company and managing several of their Fortune 500 clients. She also served as the first woman of color to lead the national advocacy organization, United States Student Association.
Ms. Shah grew up in New Jersey and holds a B.A. from Rutgers University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children and serves on several boards and commissions, including the San Francisco Unified School District’s Quality Teacher and Education Oversight Committee.
David Augustine, Tax Collector
In March 2013, Treasurer José Cisneros appointed David Augustine as San Francisco Tax Collector. The San Francisco Tax Collector is responsible for all tax collection in the City and is the ex offico license collector under California law.
Mr. Augustine joined the Office in 2004 as Policy & Legislative Manager, and was instrumental in the implementation of the Treasurer’s many innovative social programs, including Bank on San Francisco, Kindergarten to College, and the Working Families Credit program. As Tax Collector Attorney he represented the office in a number of bankruptcy proceedings and coordinated collections work with the Bureau of Delinquent Revenue.
Prior to joining the City, Mr. Augustine worked in municipal public finance, and with the New York City Mayor’s Office. He holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College. He is a member of the California State Bar. He has attended the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the Kennedy School, and has served on the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities. Mr. Augustine is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and resides in San Francisco.
Amanda Fried, Chief of Policy and Communications
Ms. Fried oversees taxpayer assistance, communications, legislation and financial empowerment initiatives for the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector.
Ms. Fried joined the organization in October 2014. Prior to joining the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, she served as Deputy Director in the Mayor’s Office of Housing, Opportunities, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE) for Mayor Ed Lee, as a Senior Advisor to the Mayor in New York City, and as a legislative aide.
Ms. Fried grew up in Philadelphia and earned a B.A. in Political Science and Urban Studies from Stanford University, and an Masters in Public Administration from the New York University Wagner School of Public Service. She lives in San Francisco with her family.