Mayor London Breed announces measures to support small businesses experiencing a slowdown related to the coronavirus outside the Boiling Shrimp in Chinatown on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF to allow thousands of businesses to defer paying taxes

Mayor Breed announces ‘first steps’ to help small businesses

A series of measures to help San Francisco’s businesses withstand the financial impact of the coronavirus were announced Wednesday by Mayor London Breed, including a move to allow thousands to defer tax payments.

Breed, who made the announcement in Chinatown along with city officials including Supervisor Aaron Peskin, said that many small businesses “are feeling the economic impact of people staying home and not shopping or going out to eat” as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“That’s why we are working to provide relief and support for our small businesses and the workers who rely on them for their livelihood,” Breed said. “This is just the first steps of what we are doing for our small business community.”

Breed said The City will allow qualifying small businesses to defer payment to the tax collector on their next round of quarterly taxes, due April 30. until February 2021. The deferral applies to businesses with up to $10 million in gross receipts, about 8,050 businesses with an average tax deferral amount of $5,400.

The City will provide additional tax relief by deferring for at least three months the collection of permitting fees that businesses like restaurants, bakeries and pet hospitals pay. This will impact 11,000 businesses and represents about $14 million.

Rodney Fong, the head of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which had called on City Hall for help, praised the assistance.

“The directives [Breed] is putting in place today will bring immediate cash flow relief to small businesses, keeping them afloat and allowing them to provide their employees adequate hours,” Fong said in a statement.

The City will also create a fund, initially $1 million, to provide up to 100 businesses with $10,000 apiece if they show a loss of revenue. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development will administer the funding.

Peskin said in a statement that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and we have to protect the public health and the backbone of our economy.”

He said the measures are “the first steps toward ensuring small businesses, their employees and families remain as stable as possible in this challenging time.”

Breed also announced measures to protect employees. She said that the City Controller will tell city-funded nonprofits that they will continue to get paid even if their productivity is impacted by labor shortages; this will ensure employees of nonprofits will not lose income if they become ill or the nonprofit is closed down due to the coronavirus.

Those businesses leasing space from The City may also get some relief.

The City will offer rent payment deferrals to tenants at places like the Port of San Francisco, the San Francisco International Airport and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The City also plans to launch a “one-stop shop” website that will provide helpful information to small businesses in need of assistance through the Office of Economic and Workforce Development at

Breed had told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday she would announce the measures to help small businesses, as several board members advanced ideas of their own.

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