March 2, 2016

CONTACT: Amanda Kahn Fried
PHONE: 415-554-0889




New City website to get San Francisco businesses up and running in minutes

San Francisco, CA-- Treasurer José Cisneros today launched Online Business Registration, a user-friendly city website that enables new businesses in San Francisco to apply, pay, and immediately begin operations.

“New businesses in San Francisco can now register with the City online in minutes. Contractors seeking a building permit, hairdressers renting their first stall in San Francisco, or neighborhood groups incorporating as a nonprofit are now able to register without stepping foot in City Hall, or waiting for a mail-in process,” said Treasurer Cisneros. “Over the past five years, my office has focused on bringing all of our business tax payments and filings online to improve the experience for taxpayers. Helping businesses succeed is essential to our City’s economy.”

Until today, businesses had to register using a paper form that could either be mailed in for a three week-turnaround, or brought in person to City Hall for same day assistance. The online system incorporates the application, digital signature and payment processes. The site automatically calculates the business registration fee and state fee as well as any applicable penalties, interest, and administrative fees. Online registration completes the Treasurer’s Office’s five year effort to bring all tax filings and payments online.

San Francisco has over 105,000 registered businesses, which pay $1.2 billion per year to the Treasurer’s Office in business taxes. Business Registration is required for anyone “engaging in business” in San Francisco—common examples are maintaining a fixed place of business, soliciting or performing business for seven days or more, or driving on San Francisco streets for business purposes. In addition, it is the required first step for anyone seeking a City permit from the Department of Public Health, Planning Department, Office of Short-term Rental, Department of Building Inspection and the Police Department.

“We are proud to deliver a well-designed and customer-centric online business registration application form in record speed to San Francisco,” said Philip Copeland, CEO of Avoka Technologies, the vendor who built the application form. “Using our cloud based platform, Avoka Transact, the Treasurer’s Office was able to build this application quickly and cost-effectively.”

“In today’s world, companies expect the ease, speed and convenience of doing business 100% digitally – anytime, anywhere, on any device, securely,” said Neil Hudspith, president: field operations, DocuSign, Inc. For the electronic signature and Digital Transaction Management (DTM) components of the solution, the Office of the Treasurer worked with DocuSign. “We wanted to help the City eliminate the hassle, cost and lack of security in printing, faxing, scanning and overnighting documents – and offer a trusted digital solution. Seeing the Treasurer’s Office take the first step with digital signatures is therefore exciting for us.”

"Since The Treasurer’s Office was committed to delivering a full-service solution to businesses, WAUSAU configured our flexible and innovative technology to ensure that new business applications and associated payments are securely received and processed quickly, creating process efficiencies and limiting risk," explained Gary Cawthorne, CEO of Wausau Financial Systems, a Deluxe Corporation company. "We are very proud to have worked hand-in-hand with the City and its vendors to develop a seamless integration of the online registration process that aligned with the existing payment portal."

 The Office of the Treasurer partnered with the San Francisco Business Portal to make Online Business Registration available via The Business Portal is award-winning one-stop resource for anyone interested in information and resources to start and grow a business in San Francisco.


About Business Registration

Business registration is required within fifteen days of operation, and is valid from July 1 to June 30th. Registration must be renewed annually by May 31st.  Fees for new businesses range from $75 to $35,000, based on the type of business activities, and annual gross receipts, and were set by the voters as part of 2012’s Proposition E- The Gross Receipts Tax and Business Registration Fees Ordinance. Registration fees are prorated for businesses that start mid-year. Over 10,000 new businesses registered with the Treasurer’s Office in 2015.