The Empty Homes Tax was approved by San Francisco voters on November 8, 2022 and becomes effective on January 1, 2024. Generally, it imposes a tax on keeping certain residential units vacant for more than 182 days in a calendar year. Filing and payment will begin for most people in 2025.
Each person, subject to certain limited exceptions, that owns a Residential Unit at any time during the tax year in a structure that has three or more Residential Units must file a return unless that person is covered by the Homeowners’ Exemption Period for a Residential Unit for the entire year.
Homeowners’ Exemption Period is the period during which a Residential Unit is the principal place of residence of any owner and for which the owner validly has claimed either the homeowners’ property tax exemption or the disabled veterans’ exemption.
For purposes of the Empty Homes Tax, Residential Unit means a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is designed as separate living quarters, subject to limited exceptions.
It does not include units occupied or intended for occupancy primarily by travelers, vacationers, or other transient occupants.
A Residential Unit is considered vacant if it is unoccupied, uninhabited, or unused, for more than 182 days, whether consecutive or nonconsecutive, in a tax year. There are several qualified vacancy exclusion periods, which are defined in the Code.
For 2024, the tax on an owner for keeping a Residential Unit vacant is based on the square footage of the unit.
Square Footage of Residential Unit
2024 Tax Rate
Less than 1,000
1,000 to 2,000
Greater than 2,000
A person that owns any Residential Unit located in a building with two or fewer Residential Units is exempt from the Empty Homes Tax with respect to any Residential Unit located in that building.
Additionally, the Empty Homes Tax does not apply to a Residential Unit for any tax year for which the Commercial Vacancy Tax is imposed on that Residential Unit.
Any organization that is exempt from income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, is exempt from the Empty Homes Tax.
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