Uber, Lyft drivers urged to register as businesses

Nearly 37,000 people who work as drivers for ride-booking services in San Francisco will have to register as a business within 30 days, the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector announced Friday.

Mailed notices have been sent out to independent contractors in The City working for ride-booking service such as Uber and Lyft, notifying them that they must register as a business, treasurer and tax collector officials said.

The notice follows nearly two years of enforcement work, including multiple requests for information and subpoenas to get sufficient data about business operations from ride-booking drivers who live in San Francisco, according to the treasurer and tax collector office.

Treasurer José Cisneros said in a statement:

“I urge all the people receiving this notice, and all unregistered businesses operating in San Francisco to take prompt action to come into compliance immediately.”

Anyone engaging in business in The City is required by law to register as a business within 15 days of operation, and must renew their registration annually, by May 31. Registration fees for new business can cost anywhere from $75 to $35,000, depending on the type of business and its annual gross receipts, according to treasurer and tax collector officials.

San Francisco-based ride-booking service Lyft said it was concerned with the move, because once a driver registers with The City, some of their personal information would become available to the public.

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in an email:

“We have serious concerns with The City’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database. … People in San Francisco, who are choosing to drive with Lyft to help make ends meet, shouldn’t have to compromise their privacy in order to share a ride.”

All businesses registering with The City agree to have some information posted publicly to the city run website, datasf.org, where every registered business in San Francisco is listed, according to treasure and tax collector spokeswoman Amanda Kahn Fried.

Uber spokeswoman Laura Zapata said in an email:

“Uber partners with entrepreneurial drivers and as independent contractors, they are responsible for following appropriate local requirements.”

The ride-booking service, which is also San Francisco-based, said it was unclear how The City determined who was a driver and how the city got their contact information.

More than half of Uber drivers in the U.S., on average, drive fewer than 10 hours per week, with 69 percent maintaining a full or part time job, according to a survey by Uber drivers.