CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO – OFFICE OF THE TREASURER & TAX COLLECTOR
JOSÉ CISNEROS, TREASURER Taxpayer Assistance, City Hall – Room 140
GEORGE PUTRIS, TAX ADMINISTRATOR #1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102
TEL.: (415) 554-4400; FAX: (415) 554-6207
TTY: (415) 554-4455 (service for the deaf/hearing impaired)
UNDERSTANDING THE S.F. BUSINESS REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE
Do I need a San Francisco Business Registration Certificate?
Any individual, partnership, corporation or other entity engaging or about to engage in business for seven or more days a
year in San Francisco must file an application with the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector within 15 days of business
operation, as stated in Article 12A of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code. This rule also applies to
businesses located outside of San Francisco and to contractors who may have only one job in the City.
What time period does the San Francisco Business Registration Certificate cover?
The certificate is issued for the fiscal year July 1 through June 30. In January the annual Business Registration Renewal
form is mailed to all registered businesses. The completed form is due on or before the last day of February for renewal
for the upcoming fiscal year. Failure to renew by the last day of February will result in a penalty and administrative fee.
How is the fee determined?
The registration fee for existing San Francisco businesses is determined by the most recent filing of the business’ annual
taxable San Francisco payroll. Businesses with annual taxable San Francisco payroll of $66.67 or higher will pay $150 per
year or more (up to $500), as indicated in the table below. Businesses with no taxable payroll (between $0 and $66.66)
are eligible to pay the minimum registration fee of $25. For new businesses, since no annual payroll statement has yet
been filed, the first year’s registration fee is based on the estimated annual payroll as reported on the Business
Registration Certificate application. The San Francisco payroll expense tax rate is 1.5%.
Example: Assuming the estimated payroll expense for a 12 month period is $350,000, the computed tax due ($350,000 x
1.5%) is $5,250. The registration fee is therefore $150.
ESTIMATED TAXABLE S.F. ESTIMATED PAYROLL TAX DUE FISCAL YEAR
PAYROLL FOR ONE YEAR ON PAYROLL EXPENSE REGISTRATION FEE
$0.00 – $66.66 Less than $1.00* $25.00
$66.67 – $666,666.99 $1.00 – $10,000.00* $150.00
$666,667.00 – $3,333,333.66 $10,000.01 – $50,000.00 $250.00
$3,333,333.67 or higher $50,000.01 or higher $500.00
*NOTE REGARDING SAN FRANCISCO PAYROLL TAX (which is different than the Registration Fee): Businesses whose annual San Francisco Payroll
Tax due is less than $2500.00 are exempt from having to pay the payroll tax provided they file their annual statement by the February 28/29 deadline.
My new business doesn’t have any payroll expense. What will the fee be?
New businesses that have no taxable San Francisco employees (or annual taxable payroll of less than $66.67) earned in
San Francisco will pay the minimum registration fee of $25, as noted in the table above.
What is the registration fee if my business started after the beginning of the fiscal year?
The registration fee for a new business starting after the first quarter is prorated – unless the business qualifies for the
minimum registration fee. Please note that per ordinance the minimum registration fee of $25.00 cannot be prorated.
IF YOUR BUSINESS STARTS: THE AMOUNT DUE IS: $25.00 $150.00 $250.00 $500.00
1 Quarter Jul 1 – Sep 30 100% of the fee $25.00 $150.00 $250.00 $500.00
2 Quarter Oct 1 – Dec 31 75% of the fee $25.00 $112.50 $187.50 $375.00
Businesses with a start date from January 1 through the last day of February pay the prorated registration fee and must
pay the annual fee for the upcoming fiscal year on or before last day of February to avoid a penalty and administrative
fee. Businesses that start March 1 through June 30 are required to pay both fees at the time of registration.
3 Quarter Jan 1 – Mar 31 50% of the fee $25.00 $75.00 $125.00 $250.00
4 Quarter Apr 1 – Jun 30 25% of the fee $25.00 $37.50 $62.50 $125.00
(Information continues on the next page or reverse side)
Understanding the S.F. Business Registration Certificate – continued
What are the penalties for submitting my Business Tax Registration application late?
Any entity conducting business in San Francisco must submit a Business Tax Registration application within 15 days of
starting business. Failure to do so will result in a late penalty equal to the amount of the original fee plus an administrative
fee of either $35 (for businesses whose annual registration fee is $150 or higher) or $25 (for businesses who are eligible
to pay the minimum $25 registration fee).
What is considered “taxable San Francisco payroll”?
Taxable San Francisco Payroll is the business’ total payroll expense minus any exempt payroll. “Payroll Expense” is the
total compensation paid, such as salaries, wages, commissions, and other compensation during the tax year. “Exempt
Payroll” applies to businesses that have employees who perform work or render services in whole or in part outside of
San Francisco, or that qualify for other approved exemptions. Independent contractors and other “1099” employees are
not considered part of a business taxable San Francisco payroll.
What are “Business Class”, “PBC”, and “NAICS Code” and how do I determine them?
“Business Class” describes a general categorization of business types. These Business Class codes are specific to the
City and County of San Francisco. A “PBC” (Principal Business Code) provides a more specific indication of business
activity. PBCs are federal but have since been replaced – first by "SIC Codes" and now by the commonly used federal
"NAICS" (North American Industrial Classification System) codes. Both the Business Class and PBC, however, are still
required by the City's existing business tax software in order to process a business registration. The staff at the Office of
the Treasurer & Tax Collector will determine your Business Class and PBC based upon the information you provide in the
space on your application marked “Description of Primary Business Activity.” A list of Business Classes is provided below.
A searchable list of NAICS codes is accessible from the Tax Collector website at: www.sfgov.org/tax/NAICS.
CLASS DESCRIPTION CLASS DESCRIPTION
01 Commission Merchant or Broker 09 Storage, Freight Forwarding
02 Building Contractor 10 Telephone, Gas, Electric, Steam, Railroad Services
03 Hotels, Apartments, etc. 11 Transporting Persons for Hire
04 Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Dye Agents, etc. 12 Trucking/Hauling
05 Money Lending 13 Wholesale Sales
06 Personal Property Rental 15 Architects and Engineers
07 Other Business Services (most services) 16 Nonprofit Garage Corporations
08 Retail Sales 00 Fixed Place of Business
What if I want to change my information later, such as adding a new DBA or changing an address?
To update an existing business account, submit a signed “Request for Information Changes” form to the Office of the
Treasurer & Tax Collector. This form is available in Room 140 of City Hall or online at: www.sfgov.org/tax/BusinessForms
Please note that all additional or replacement DBA (“Doing Business As”) names and locations must be registered with
the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and as Fictitious Business Names with the County Clerk.
Are there any other requirements?
In addition to registering, all businesses must report their annual taxable San Francisco payroll for every calendar year
that they are in business. (This reporting is due by the last day of February, together with the annual registration renewal.)
Obtaining a Business Registration Certificate satisfies only the requirements under Article 12A of the San Francisco
Business and Tax Regulations Code. All registered businesses must comply with all provisions of other municipal
ordinances that may require a permit and/or license from another regulatory body. The Business Registration Certificate
does not authorize the owner to conduct any regulated business activity without the required additional permit and/or
license, nor any unlawful business, nor any lawful business in an illegal manner.
Non-Profit Organizations and Other Exempt Businesses and Entities
Non-profit organizations and other businesses and entities are exempt from registration fees and taxes if their activities
are exempt from taxation under the Constitution or laws of the United States or the State of California. Certified non-profit
organizations and most other exempt entities must still register with the Tax Collector and provide proof of their exempt
status and/or complete a Declaration of Exemption from Business Registration (or equivalent). Non-profit
organizations must also provide a copy of the statement from the Internal Revenue Service indicating exempt status
under Section 501(c), 501(d), 401(a) of Title 26 of the United Sates code as qualified by Sections 502, 503, 504, and 508.
Entities under these sections are liable for the tax on payroll expense attributable to unrelated business taxable income.
CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO – OFFICE OF THE TREASURER & TAX COLLECTOR