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Business Tax Amnesty Program Frequently Asked Questions

Questions 

What is the Amnesty Program?

What if I already have a business tax account, but I received a letter requesting verification of it?

Can I set up a payment plan?

What does this tax do for me?

As a home owner, I already pay property taxes.  Why do I have to pay for those services if I already get them?

What happens if I decide not to pay?

Why haven’t you contacted my neighbor?

Why didn’t I get notified of this tax?

Why didn’t my real estate broker notify me?

Why wasn’t the tax placed in escrow?

My tenant is paying the tax, why do I have to pay?  Isn’t that double taxation?

Why isn’t the business tax pro-rated?

 

Answers

What is the Amnesty Program?

The City of San José offers a limited-time 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 March 27, 2020.

  

What if I already have a business tax account, but I received a letter requesting verification of it?

You can call our general phone number 408-535-7055 or email businesstax@sanjoseca.gov for verification of your existing business tax account. In your email, please provide the name of your business and existing business tax account number so that a customer service agent can update your information. 

 

Can I set up a payment plan?

Yes, a payment plan will be available during the Business Tax Amnesty Program.  The full principal amount of tax owed will need to be paid before the end of the Amnesty Program – March 27, 2020.

 

What does this tax do for me?

Funds received from business tax are used for general city services, including police, fire, parks, recreation and neighborhood services, libraries, and government administrative functions.  

 

As a home owner, I already pay property taxes.  Why do I have to pay for City services if I already get them?

The City only receives a small portion of the funds that are paid on your County property tax bill.   The business tax helps to supplement the City’s general fund to provide essential services to the community.

  

What happens if I decide not to pay? 

This is an excellent opportunity to comply and you will save money by not having to pay penalties and interest and certain prior year taxes.  The City will be taking necessary steps to identify those businesses that have not complied.  If you do not register and pay during the Amnesty Period, you will be liable for penalties and interest.

  

Why haven’t you contacted my neighbor?

There can be several reasons.  Home-based occupations generally may not advertise their business or may not be listed in the phone book.  This makes it hard for us to know if they are in business.  You can help us by either mentioning the program to your neighbor or by giving us their name and address so that we can inform them of this excellent opportunity.

 

Why didn’t I get notified of this tax?

One of the primary goals of the Amnesty Program is to increase awareness of the City’s business tax requirements and educate individuals and entities on the need to register and either pay or apply for an exemption.  On a regular basis, the City’s business tax team presents at small business workshops and places relevant information on our website and in City Hall. 

  

As a commercial landlord, my tenant pays the business tax; why do I have to pay?  Isn’t that double taxation?

You have to pay because the Municipal Code defines commercial landlords as engaging in the business of renting or leasing property.  It is not double taxation because those are two separate businesses.

 

Why isn’t the business tax pro-rated?

The Municipal Code establishes the basis for the business tax and how the tax is calculated.  It does not provide for the pro-ration of the tax.  It does not allow for pro-ration of the tax based on start or end dates of business.

If you additional questions, please call Revenue Management’s main phone number (408) 535-7055 to speak with a customer service representative.