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Ballot Measure Changes
Modernization of the San José business tax was approved by San José voters on November 8, 2016 (Measure G). The approved changes will take effect July 1, 2017.

The City’s business tax was first adopted in 1963, and the methodology for calculating the current business tax was first adopted in 1984. The current rates had not been increased since 1986, three decades ago. More than 65% of San José voters approved the modernization measure and new rates at the November 2016 election.

The adjustments to the business tax that will take effect on July 1, 2017, include: 
  • Increasing the base tax
  • Increasing the incremental tax and making it more progressive
  • Increasing the cap (the maximum amount of the tax affecting large businesses)
  • Updating the application of the tax to more classes of businesses
  • Adding inflation-based adjustments for future tax rates


Businesses are able to register and pay their business tax online. More information can be found on the "Make a Payment" page: 


The charts on the Business Tax Rates page represent the structure of the current and voter-approved business tax rates effective July 1, 2017.

Addition of a Financial Hardship Exemption for Small Business Owners with Limited Household Income

San José currently allows for several exemptions for the payment of the current business tax. These are provided by federal or state law, and several exemptions are specific to San José. The largest number of exemptions in San José is for businesses that qualify as a “low-revenue generating” small business (or “financial hardship”).

Currently, the financial hardship business income threshold is based on the poverty level guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS poverty level is currently set at $12,060. Since the cost of living in the Bay Area is greater than the national average, the City Council approved an income threshold at two times (2X) the annual level established by the HHS.

Based on this formula, the City’s current financial hardship exemption threshold based on the poverty level established by the HHS is $24,120. This hardship exemption is applied based on business income regardless of total household income.

As part of the modernization, San José voters approved adding an additional exemption category for small business owners with limited household incomes. A small business can be exempt where the adjusted gross income of the small business owner does not exceed four times (4X) the annual poverty level established by the HHS.

Based on the current HHS poverty level, this threshold would be based on a household income of $48,240. This exemption based on household adjusted gross income (IRS Form 1040, Line 37) will allow a more generous exemption for low income households, and it maintains the current financial hardship exemption program based on business income (IRS Form 1040, Line 12).

The extension for residential landlords has been extended to June 30, 2018.


Implementation Information

Legislative History