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SF to Waive $2.5M in Taxes, Fees for Hard-Hit Entertainment Businesses

  • San Francisco will waive regulatory and registration fees for entertainment and nightlife businesses, many of whom have been closed since March

  • The waivers amount to $2.5 million in relief for the hard-hit entertainment sector, and are part of a patchwork of emergency aid measures enacted by the City

  • Other local relief programs include business tax deferrals, a $9 million fund for zero-interest loans, and $3.5 million in grants for small business.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Treasurer José Cisneros jointly announced that hundreds of entertainment and nightlife businesses will not be required to pay regulatory and business registration fees for two years.

The fee waiver amounts to $2.5 million in relief, according to the Mayor’s Office, and affects about 300 entertainment businesses, including music venues, clubs and bars, with annual gross receipts under $20 million. In addition to the fee waivers, those businesses will not be required to pay payroll taxes for 2020.

“This tax and fee relief will remove a looming burden from many businesses who’ve been shuttered by COVID-19,” said Treasurer José Cisneros.

The relief is part of a patchwork of emergency policy measures intended to prevent some of the hardest-hit local businesses from closing permanently.

In late September, Breed issued an existing moratorium on commercial evictions, which bars landlords from evicting small and medium-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19 through Nov. 30. It does not, however, forgive the back rent.

The City has also opened up a handful of emergency relief programs for small businesses, including business tax deferrals, a $9 million fund for zero-interest loans, and $3.5 million in grants.

The newly announced fee and tax waivers amounts to thousands of dollars in savings for struggling entertainment venues, but without additional federal relief, local proprietors warn that many more businesses could close permanently.

Congressional Democrats and the White House have been unable to reach an agreement on a new economic stimulus package.

As of August 31, the San Francisco metro area recorded 2,882 permanent business closures, according to Yelp.

The City’s Economic Recovery Task Force, a coalition of business and community leaders, recently issued several dozen policy recommendations intended to shore up and stimulate the local economy.

Those recommendations included slashing red tape for small business, targeted city-sponsored financial support, and a push for federal aid to invest in job-promoting capital projects, among other initiatives.

With many businesses shuttered, offices closed and tourism stalled, San Francisco is facing a budget deficit of about $1.5 billion according to the City’s most recent projections.

The Controller’s Office is expected to issue a revised financial outlook sometime in mid-November.


Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup

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