Thursday April 17, 2014

CONTACT: Greg Kato, Office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector
PHONE: (415) 701-2311




Initiative to Reach Over 90,000 San Francisco Businesses

San Francisco, CA—Today Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Treasurer José Cisneros launched an Outreach Initiative to inform more than 90,000 businesses of changes to San Francisco business taxes. The changes are the result of a November 2012 ballot initiative that passed with over 70% voter approval and a broad coalition of business and community support. The Outreach Initiative includes seminars, community meetings, and marketing campaigns to businesses in San Francisco and the continued direct engagement of business community leaders through the Business Tax Advisory Group.

“San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved a consensus business tax reform measure to change from a payroll expense tax to a gross receipts tax to help our City’s small businesses and innovative entrepreneurs thrive and create more jobs for our residents,” said Mayor Lee. “With a robust outreach initiative, we will ensure implementation is transparent, accessible, and fair for all taxpayers.”

The Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector is implementing the new Gross Receipts Tax and Business Registration Fee Ordinance instituting a Gross Receipts Tax, and reducing the Payroll Expense Tax over five years. Small businesses, such as those that have $1 million or less in gross receipts are exempt from the Gross Receipt Tax. 

”This change to local business taxes is the most significant we have seen in a generation,” said Treasurer José Cisneros.  “I thank all the City departments and community leaders for helping inform businesses about the coming changes, and look forward to continued success in getting the word out to businesses.”

As part of the Gross Receipts Tax and Business Registration Fee Ordinance nearly all registered business in San Francisco will also see their Business Registration Fee increase. The first deadline affecting many businesses is on May 31, 2014, when the registration fees are due for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.  In addition to the outreach, businesses will be mailed notices alerting them of upcoming deadlines and instructions to file and pay their taxes.

In a collaborative effort between the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Office of Small Business, a robust multi-phased outreach plan was developed.  The outreach focuses on small businesses and non-English proficient businesses, with all materials translated into multiple languages.  The goal of the outreach is educate businesses on the changing business tax structure and the changing Business Registration Fee. The outreach plan includes presentations about the Gross Receipts Tax to merchant associations, monthly Business Tax Seminars hosted at the Main Library on the first Thursday of every month, marketing and advertising on  SFMTA buses and in neighborhood and mainstream newspapers, multi-language radio and television public service announcements (PSAs), and the launch of a new website (

In conjunction with the Outreach Initiative, the City has formed the Business Tax Advisory Group (BTAG), which includes a diverse representation from various large and small business sectors across all economic sectors in the City. It is co-chaired by Jim Lazarus, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and Kate Sofis, Executive Director of SF MADE, a local manufacturing advocacy organization. 

“This tax change will impact thousands of businesses and an aggressive outreach program is key to a smooth transition,” said Mr. Lazarus. “The Chamber is pleased to be working with the City to make sure this happens.”

 “The Business Tax Advisory Group is a continuation of the collaborative process that brought these changes and will help ensure that all businesses in the city- no matter what sector or size, what neighborhood they are in, or what language they speak- are informed and engaged in the implementation of the gross receipts tax," said Ms. Sofis.

BTAG’s goal is to ensure strong outreach tools are developed, information is deployed to the appropriate businesses, to ensure feedback and the needs of the businesses are heard throughout the full implementation of the tax changes.

For more information on the Gross Receipts and Business Registration Fees and the Outreach Initiative, please go to: