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The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor London Breed Announces Fee and Tax Waivers to Support Entertainment and Nightlife Businesses

Fee and tax waiver will help approximately 300 businesses that have been unable to open due to COVID-19

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and Treasurer José Cisneros today announced San Francisco will provide $2.5 million in support for entertainment and nightlife venues in the form of additional fee and tax waivers. These businesses have been in large part unable to open due to COVID-19 and need assistance now. Waiving license and business registration fees and taxes for these businesses is part of Mayor Breed’s efforts to support San Francisco’s economic recovery, as is aligned with the policy recommendations from the Economic Recovery Task Force.

“We need to do more to support those businesses that contribute to San Francisco’s unique and vibrant culture, which is a cornerstone for our economic recovery as a city,” said Mayor London Breed. “As we recover and keep up our progress on reopening, we want to make sure these businesses are still around to bring music, performances and excitement, as well as provide jobs for so many. Entertainment and nightlife are such an important part of why people live and visit our city, and we hope these additional fee waivers reduce some of the financial stress they’re experiencing.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, San Francisco’s entertainment and nightlife businesses and venues have either not been able to operate at all, or in a very limited capacity, which has reduced their ability to survive. These businesses include music venues, clubs, bars, restaurants with live performances, all of which contribute tremendously to San Francisco’s culture. Despite not being able to operate, these businesses were still required to pay certain license and business registration fees and taxes.

“When San Francisco faces an incredible challenge, the entire community pulls together,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “This tax and fee relief will remove a looming burden from many businesses who’ve been shuttered by COVID-19.”

The City will provide financial relief for approximately 300 businesses that are permitted as entertainment venues and that have gross receipts of less than $20 million, representing a total of approximately $2.5 million in support for these businesses. Relief will be provided by waiving these businesses’ regulatory license fees and Business Registration Fees for two years and by waiving their Payroll Expense Taxes for 2020. This is a fee waiver, not a deferral, so businesses will not have to pay back these fees at a later date. Businesses will still be required to file all business tax returns.

“Our entertainment venues are a large part of the reason people flock to San Francisco and rave about our culture,” said Ben Bleiman, President of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission. “They are also particularly vulnerable during these times due to their business models. We must do all we can to support these businesses, so that we have places to be able to come together once we’re able to come together again. Thank you to Mayor Breed for her continued support of our entertainment and nightlife venues.”

Waiving these fees aligns with the Economic Recovery Task Force’s policy recommendations of preserving operations and lessening regulatory burdens for businesses. Additionally, the ERTF recommended supporting arts and cultural organizations, and this new policy provides financial relief for those organizations, many of which have been unable to open since March.

These new fee waivers build on Mayor Breed’s prior support for San Francisco small businesses. In August, Mayor Breed and Treasurer Cisneros announced they would continue to defer collection of Business Registration Fees and the Unified License Fees until March 1, 2021. These deferrals remain in place for other businesses.

Mayor Breed’s other recently announced efforts to support small business and arts and cultural organizations include:

  • Extending Shared Spaces permits through June 30, 2021 and working to make elements of the program permanent beyond that date.
  • SF Shines Program, providing $1.6 million in grants and design services to support neighborhood businesses that need to purchase furniture and fixtures and reconfigure space in order to meet health requirements for operating.
  • Directing nearly $6 million in funding for artists, teaching artists, arts organizations, and cultural workers, including a new universal basic income pilot program for San Francisco artists.
  • The Cultural Districts Community Building and Impact program will award $265,000 to each legislatively approved Cultural District working to preserve, strengthen, and promote their cultural communities.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Breed has launched several initiatives and programs to assist businesses in San Francisco:

  • Business tax deferrals for small businesses with up to $10 million in gross receipts. Mayor Breed and Treasurer Cisneros notified small businesses that their first quarter businesses taxes can be deferred until February 2021. No interest payments, fees, or fines will accrue as a result of the deferral.
  • $10 million Workers and Families First Paid Sick Leave Program, proving up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee.
  • $9 million Emergency Loan Fund providing up to $50,000 in zero-interest loans for individual small businesses.
  • $2.5 million Resiliency Grants providing up to $10,000 grants to over 300 small businesses.
  • $3.2 million for the African American Small Business Revolving Loan Fund.
  • $1 million for Neighborhood Mini-Grants to Support 300 Small Businesses in Underserved Communities.
  • $2.5 million in support for working artists and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19.
  • Supporting nonprofits funded by the City so workers do not lose their incomes. 
  • Issuing a Moratorium on Commercial Evictions for small and medium sized businesses that cannot afford to pay rent.
  • Capping the commission at 15% on 3rd party food delivery companies.
  • Advocating for additional resources for small business and workers through the federal CARES Act.
  • Establishing City Philanthropic Fund, where donations will support housing stabilization, food security, and financial security for workers and small businesses impacted by coronavirus.
  • Launching a one-stop City website for businesses and workers seeking resources, contacts, and updates during the COVID-19 emergency: