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Business Tax Amnesty Program

FINANCE UPDATE: Business Tax Amnesty Program Extended Through 06/30/2020

About the Business Tax Amnesty Program

The City of San José 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 underreported 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.  The period to apply for Amnesty runs through June 30, 2020.

The Amnesty Program application period spans from October 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020 for the tax periods of October 1, 2016 through June 30, 2020.  Our records indicate that you may be doing business, or have conducted business during the applicable tax period, in the City of San José and may not have paid your business tax.

The goals of the Amnesty Program are to educate individuals and entities about the City’s business tax requirements, the availability of exemptions, and the benefits of registering with the City.  Accordingly, we wish to encourage individuals and entities to pay your business tax and obtain a business tax certificate by easing the financial burden of paying past-due penalties and interest when certain past-due and current business taxes are paid.  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.  

Business Tax Requirements

San José Municipal Code requires that all individuals and entities, engaged in business in San José, 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.  

Benefits of Registering during Amnesty

As noted above, individuals and businesses registering during the Amnesty application period will have all penalties and interest forgiven if the underlying principal business tax is paid.  
Furthermore, businesses can take advantage of invaluable City services to support business operators in navigating the plan review, permitting, and inspection processes.  The City and various business associations offer coaching services for new entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners looking to startup, locate, or expand in San José.  By registering your business, you will also have access to local professional associations and chamber of commerce organizations 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 José during the applicable tax period, please visit our website to complete a business tax registration.  Payment or application for exemption may be completed after submitting the business tax registration form.  In order to be eligible for the Amnesty Program, a business registration form (online or hard copy) and full payment or application for exemption must be received by our office or postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service by June 30, 2020.  If you have any questions, please contact the City’s Finance Department at (408) 535-7055 at your earliest convenience.  

Thank you for conducting business in San José.


Business Tax Amnesty Letter (Spanish)

Business Tax Amensty Letter (Vietnamese)

Business Tax Brochure (Spanish)

Business Tax Brochure (Vietnamese)

Additional Information

For more information about the Business Tax Amnesty Program, visit the following links:

Extension of the Business Tax Amnesty Program to June 30, 2020

Business Tax Amnesty Program Frequently Asked Questions

City Council Memo - August 13, 2019

City Council PowerPoint Presentation - August 13, 2019

Business Tax Brochure