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San Jose business tax amnesty ends March 27

Post Date:01/28/2020 12:12 PM

The City of San Jose offers a Business Tax Amnesty Program to individuals and entities that have never registered their business, are behind on paying their business tax, or have under-reported their employee counts, square footage, or number of rental properties.  Under the Amnesty Program, individuals and entities that pay certain past-due taxes will benefit from the forgiveness of all penalties and interest.  Businesses have until March 27, 2020 to apply for amnesty.

The Amnesty Program applies to business in operation from October 1, 2016 through March 27, 2020. The Business Tax Program Overview section of our website outlines the requirements for all individuals and entities conducting business in San José to (1) register with the City; and, (2) pay the business tax or apply for an exemption.  

Why are we offering amnesty?
 First, it's a way to get businesses to register with the City. Offering amnesty helps us educate individuals and entities about the City’s business tax requirements, the availability of exemptions, and the benefits of registering with the City.  But there is real value to us in the information you share. It helps us know how many employees are coming to work each day, and it helps us forecast our tax revenues.

Business Tax Requirements

San Jose Municipal Code requires that all individuals and entities, engaged in business in San Jose, register with the City and obtain a business tax certificate within 90 days of commencing business.  Typical individuals and entities subject to business tax include, but are not limited to: commercial property landlords, residential property landlords, retail outlets, wholesalers, manufacturers, service companies, self-employed professionals, independent contractors, and home-based businesses. The tax also applies to part-time operations.

Available Exemptions

The City offers a number of exemptions that relieve individuals and entities from paying the business tax.  Individuals and entities that wish to claim exemption from the payment of business tax are still required to complete a business tax registration with the City and apply for an exemption.  Additional documentation may be required to determine eligibility and the City has the right to examine and audit all records, including state and federal income tax returns.  

What are the benefits of registering during the Amnesty period?

It's a win-win!  If you register during the Amnesty application period, you will have all penalties and interest forgiven if the underlying principal business tax is paid. In addition, you can take advantage of invaluable City services that can help you with navigating the plan review, permitting, and inspection processes.  The City and our partner organizations offer coaching services for new entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners looking to start up, move to, or expand in San José.  By registering your business, you will also have access to local business associations and chambers of commerce which will help keep you informed on current and changing requirements for your line of business.

Next Steps

If you need to register your business, or need to report having engaged in business in San Jose during the applicable tax period, please visit our website to complete a business tax registration. If you have any questions, please contact the City’s Finance Department at (408) 535-7055 at your earliest convenience.  

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