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 Office of the San Francisco Treasurer & Tax Collector serves as the banker, tax collector, collection agent, and investment officer for the City and County of San Francisco. Our mission is to collect and safeguard the City’s money and use our expertise to assist low-income San Francisco families build economic security and mobility.
We are committed to providing excellent services for taxpayers, customers, and our community. By promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are a stronger, smarter, and more informed government agency.
Restoring Vibrancy in San Francisco
The Commercial Vacancy Tax was passed by voters in 2020 with the purpose of reinvigorating commercial corridors in the City. The tax became effective in 2022 and the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector has conducted extensive outreach to property and business owners in relevant commercial corridors covered by the tax. This has included a new website with interactive map, multilingual outreach materials and a webinar outlining the obligations related to the tax.
Property tax revenue is one of the most significant funding sources for public safety programs. Because of comprehensive communication from the Office to property owners and the encouragement of penalty waivers, more than 99 percent of secured property tax revenue was collected on time, providing billions in revenue.
Recovery of the Local Economy
The Office led implementation of First Year Free, an innovative new program passed by the Board of Supervisor and Mayor to support and revive San Francisco small businesses as the City recovers from the pandemic. First Year Free offers relief to qualifying new storefront businesses or locations by waiving the initial registration fees, initial license fees, and first-year permit fees. The Office seamlessly integrated screening and approval of the program into existing business registration and update process while conducting a broad multilingual outreach to business groups, creating a PSA, and conducting a social media marketing campaign.
The Office has also been fully committed to an ongoing citywide effort to provide relief to the City’s small businesses. Implementation of 10 deadline deferrals which impacted over 100,000 businesses and waived taxes and fees for small businesses was completed this year. Through these waivers, the Office provided millions of dollars in tax and fee relief to small businesses.
Prioritizing Programs Centered Around Equity
Implementation of the Racial Equity Action Plan began this year and numerous items have been accomplished, including reviewing and simplifying job descriptions; drafting improved Mission and Vision statements to better reflect the Office’s commitment and priorities; and creating an anonymous Racial Equity feedback form.
Convening the Guaranteed Income Advisory Group and developing a robust playbook for future work was a major focus of the Office. The Advisory Group held six meetings and recently released recommendations as well as a guide to starting a pilot in the City.
Kindergarten to College (K2C) celebrated its 10-year anniversary by building on an equity incentive pilot for incoming Kindergarten students from low-income families, encouraging college savings by increasing their initial seed money. K2C is also began offering the option for families to move their child’s college savings from K2C into a CA 529 ScholarShare account without losing K2C incentives.
The Financial Justice Project (FJP), in partnership with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, announced the launch of the “Be The Jury” pilot program in San Francisco Superior Court, which will compensate low-to-moderate-income jurors $100 a day for their jury service. FJP also launched the “The Text Before Tow” Program, which will allow people to sign-up to get a text message when their vehicle is about to be towed for certain violations.
Investing In and Automating our Core Service Delivery
City Hall offices were safely reopened while continuing to provide high quality customer service using new modes of engagement that are direct, real time and contactless. The Office will continue to extend contactless payments Citywide while reducing costs.
The Office moved to improve banking practices by concluding an RFP and contracting process that resulted in the City & County of San Francisco’s (CCSF) primary banking partner transitioning to JP Morgan, the first change in over 10 years. This partnership will include a first-ever Social Responsibility MOU between CCSF and JP Morgan, which will be spearheaded by the Office of Financial Empowerment.
Working to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) while simultaneously streamlining business tax refund process and technology tools has been a priority over the last year. These two efforts culminated when RPA was used for processing thousands of business registration renewal refunds in one-third the time associated with manual processing. The Office will continue to expand the use of RPA to improve efficiency and timeliness.
The property tax website was upgraded with search and payment features that will make it easier for taxpayers to find properties and pay bills. In 2020, the Office implemented the TaxSys, cloud-based tax billing and collection system that allows us to electronically process hundreds of thousands of bills and billions in tax payments annually. The new site is the next generation of that major overhaul.
By the Numbers
Online Interactions (99% tax filings online)
- Continue Implementation of the Commercial Vacancy Tax and Overpaid Executive Tax
- Implement the Empty Homes Tax, which was passed by San Francisco voters in 2022
- Provide high quality customer service using new modes of engagement that are direct, real time and contactless
- Facilitate citywide small business relief efforts, including installment plans
- Expand Smart Money Coaching and consumer protection to more in our community, including at-risk youth and our small businesses
- Continue to identify and eliminate fines and fees that disproportionality impact low-income people of color
- Increase number of families saving to their Kindergarten to College accounts and connecting with 529 ScholarShare accounts
- Continue implementation of the Racial Equity Action Plan. Moving forward, we commit at least ten percent of budget to efforts that advance racial and economic equity, and we’re working to assure that these are prioritized across all the work of our office.
- Develop, advise, and execute a robust playbook for Guaranteed Income work
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.