Finance Department

Business License & Tax Certificate

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Business License & Tax Certificate

Welcome to the City of Fresno Business Tax Division! We hope the information you find here will be helpful to you in your business operations.   Access information about how to start your own business, apply for a business tax certificate, pay your tax payment online, start the approval process for business permits, download forms, look up information about existing businesses, view new business license recipients or use our Business Directory. Our Frequently Asked Questions section has useful answers to many common questions. Or you may contact our Customer Service division at (559) 621-6880 or businesstax@fresno.gov.

The City of Fresno Finance Department works with over 25,000 businesses and events annually. The Business License sections of the Fresno Municipal Code state the requirements and regulations under which all businesses shall operate [FMC Sections 5-101 and 5-102]. There are usually questions by about the term “license” according to the Fresno Municipal Code. The term is not meant to construe a professional certification of an ability or accredited diploma by this municipality. Rather, it is a term referring to the ability of the City to gather revenue in the form of taxes where persons carry on any trade, calling, profession, or occupation in the City.

The term “permit” refers to the business activities engaged by persons or groups identified by the City Council as needing to be regulated or controlled for the good of the citizenry at large. See the Business License Checklist for further information on who needs to obtain a business license.

Therefore, as identified by the Fresno Municipal Code, particular businesses will be required to have both business license/tax certificate(s) and specific permit(s) for those activities stipulated by the code.

Please note there are other agencies and/or departments within the City system as well as county, state and federal governments, that may have requirements for permits [example, conditional use permits] that are in addition to and/or need prior approval.

In order that the city maintain service commitments, it is important that you provide accurate and complete information on the application[s] you submit. Modified, or incomplete information may cause delays and/or stop us from complying with your requests to legally conduct business within the City of Fresno.

How do I update my tax records or get information?

Most transactions can be accomplished by phone (559) 621-6880. There may be certain aspects of a transaction on your tax account that may require your presence. Additional taxes and/or permit fees may be required if your business is located and/or covered within certain code jurisdictions such as hotels and motels, taxicabs, cardroom, dance halls, billiard rooms, mobile food vendors to name a few.

Additional Information

Opening a New Business?

Please visit our Planning Division to obtain an approved Zone Clearance. This is required before you apply for a City of Fresno Tax Certificate. For more information about the Zone Clearance process, you may visit the Planning Division zone clearance page or you may visit the City Planning Division in Fresno City Hall at 2600 Fresno St, Room 3043. They are open Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

When you apply for your business tax certificate, you are required to provide your approved Zone Clearance document. You may apply for your business tax certificate online  or by mail with our printable Business License & Tax Certificate Application . You may also apply in person at the Business Tax Division public counter in Fresno City Hall. In all cases, please be prepared to provide your approved Zone Clearance document.

City of Fresno Business Tax Division
2600 Fresno Street, Room 2162
Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Third Friday 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Customer Service (559) 621-6880

The Fresno Startup Guide

The Fresno Startup Guide, a consolidated booklet of participating agencies offering startup resources, is available in both English and Spanish.

New Business Checklist

Owners and persons having ownership interest in businesses operating in the City of Fresno are required by the Fresno Municipal Code to obtain a Business Tax Certificate. The following questions are intended to help you assess your potential need to obtain a Tax Certificate.

  • Am I involved in the retail or wholesale selling of merchandise, equipment or other material items?
  • Am I leasing equipment or other items to others?
  • Am I receiving revenue for providing personal, business or other services, including consulting and lobbying services?
  • Am I receiving revenue from the rental of living accommodations, including rooming house lodgings, apartments, flats, courts or single family residences?
  • Am I receiving rental revenue from commercial real property used by others to conduct business?
  • Do I have a California State Contractor’s License?
  • Am I an attorney, physician, Certified Public Accountant, insurance broker, dentist, architect, mortician, psychologist, psychiatrist, real estate agent or engaged in any other profession for which I have special certification or licensing issued by governmental or professional organizations?
  • Am I a broker dealing in commodities, securities or services?
  • Am I engaged in any activities not mentioned above which might be perceived by members of the community to be of a “business” nature?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, and you do not already have a Business Tax Certificate for the activities mentioned above, you should contact the City of Fresno Finance Department’s Business Tax staff as soon as possible. Late compliance may result in penalty fees. The Business Tax Division is located on the ground floor of City Hall.  Our Customer Service staff can be reached by telephone at (559) 621-6880.

Credit/Debit Card Fees

Customers who pay by credit card or debit card are now required to pay a 2.3% convenience fee in addition to the amount they choose to pay in business taxes, room tax or dog license fees. The convenience fee is not collected by the City of Fresno but by the card payment processor and therefore will not be reflected on your business tax or dog license account.

The fees will apply to credit card and debit card payments made at the public counter and on the online payment web site. VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit cards are accepted. Only debit cards with a VISA or MasterCard logo will be accepted. Customers may continue to pay with check by mail and by check or cash in person without any additional charges.