Business License & Tax FAQs

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Who must obtain a business license?

Please see the New Business Information Checklist for further information.

What are your office hours and location?

The City of Fresno Business Tax Division is located in City Hall, at Tulare Street and P Street, First Floor, Room 1096.  Our Customer Service phone line is (559) 621-6880.  Our office hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where can I pay city business taxes?

The tax return can be mailed and postmarked by the due date. You can also bring it in to the public counter in the Payments Room in Fresno City Hall, Room 1096.  You can pay the current tax period renewal online by credit or debt card.  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code from your current tax return, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during normal working hours.

What is your mailing address?

Attn:  Business Tax, PO Box 45017, Fresno, CA 93718-5017.  This PO Box is specifically for our Business Tax and Dog License Section.  If you are mailing something to a certain employee, be sure to write their name or initials on the outside of the envelope.

What is your street address to overnight a business tax payment?

Attn:  Business Tax Mail Processing Clerk, 2600 Fresno Street, Room 1096, Fresno, CA  93721

Is the Business Tax Certificate the same thing as a Business License?

Yes.

Why are business taxes assessed?

To help fund government services such as police, fire, streets, parks, economic developments and general administration.

How are business taxes determined?

Taxes are either flat rate or based on gross receipts depending on the tax code classification assigned at the time of application.  The tax return itself will provide specific instructions on how to determine the proper tax due.

How do I apply?

Our application is available as an online form or as a printable form.  Business License & Tax Certificate Application – Online FormBusiness License & Tax Certificate Application – Printable PDF.

You can file the online form and pay the application fees and any initial tax by credit or debit card through our online payment site.  You can file the printable application by mailing the application and payment of the $11.00 fees (application processing fee and state mandated fee).  If mailing the application, make your check or money order out to “City of Fresno” and mail the payment and application to the P.O. Box mailing address listed on the application.  If there are any additional requirements, we will contact you.

Or you can file the application by coming in to our public counter.  We are located in Fresno City Hall, at Tulare Street and P Street, First Floor, Room 1096.   Our office hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please DO NOT FAX the application since we cannot process an application without payment.

What businesses can I conduct from my home?

Property use is regulated by the Fresno Municipal code zoning laws and the Development and Resource Management Department.  Specific definitions for home occupation.  For more information, you may visit the Development and Resource Management Department, City Hall, Third Floor.  Their office is open Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (closed noon – 1:00 p.m.).

I rent commercial buildings or residential properties. Do I have to pay business tax?

The rental of residential property and the leasing of commercial property are considered business activities.   Any revenue generated from these activities is taxable by the City of Fresno Business Tax Division.  A separate tax certificate is required for each property, unless the properties are contiguous (the properties share boundary lines).

Residential Property:  By City Controller’s ruling, a person or entity renting, leasing, or subletting four or more separate living units shall be considered subject to City of Fresno Business Tax.  For example, if you own two single family homes and a duplex (four living units), you are obligated to pay tax on the revenue you collect from the four units.  If you own a duplex and one single family home (three living units), you are exempt from paying tax.  The living unit you live in is exempt from this rule and should not be counted as one of the four living units.

How do I register my business name?

Registering a business name that is different from your own legal name (filing a Fictitious Name) is a process managed by the Fresno County Clerk’s office.  Filing a Fictitious Name and obtaining your Business Tax Certificate are two separate steps.  To register your business name, call the Fresno County Clerk’s office at (559) 600-2575.

When do business taxes come due?

With a few exceptions, taxes are due within 30 days following the end of a business tax renewal period.  Most tax certificates are renewed every six months and some are renewed on an annual basis.  Tax return forms are mailed to the business’ mailing address.  However,  the tax is due whether the form is received or not.  Late fees of at least 20 percent are assessed for tax balances not paid by the due date bases on postmark.  This percentage is cumulative and is applied to every 30 day period (not to exceed three [3] periods for 90 days).

How can I get more general information about starting or running a business?

Check out the excellent info at www.fresnostartup.com.

How do I tell if a business is licensed? What if I need information about the owner of a business?

Call us at (559) 621-6880 during office hours, or email us at businesstax@fresno.gov .  This information is not available online at this time.

How can I register a complaint about a business?

You can call the Better Business Bureau to register complaints about a business at (559) 222-8111. Our section collects taxes from businesses, but in most cases we do not monitor how a business is run. Certain types of businesses, however, are required to obtain a business permit in addition to the business tax certificate, and our section issues those permits.  Examples of these types of businesses are taxi drivers, taxi companies, mobile vendors, funeral escorts, and businesses with billiard games or amusement devices.  If you have a complaint about a business in these categories, call Customer Service at (559) 621-6880.

How do I update my tax records or get information?

You can change your mailing address or business location, report that your business is closing, or report other changes to your business by calling (559) 621-6880.  You can report the changes in writing on your business tax return, or by letter.  (Be sure that any written changes are signed by the owner or their agent, dated, and that a daytime phone number is provided.)  You can also update your account online at www.businesstax.fresno.gov/webrenewals/.  You must have your tax account number and web security code ready.  You can obtain your web security code from your current tax return, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during normal working hours.  It is the business owner’s responsibility to report changes and closes to our office.

I'm selling my business. Do I give the tax certificate to the new owner?

No.  The Business Tax Certificate is not transferable.  You are responsible for closing your tax account by contacting our office.  The new owner must fill out a new application and pay the processing fees.

I didn't receive a Tax Return, but I did receive a Tax Certificate - why?

Businesses who pay taxes on a quarterly or a six-month basis receive the Business Tax Certificate as the top portion of a single-page or four-page tax return form.  The Business Tax Return is the rest of the single-page or four-page tax return.  Keep the Certificate, and send in the Tax Return by the payment due date.  A current tax certificate should be posted at your place of business or carried with you when you conduct business in the City of Fresno.  The certificate must be provided at the request of any authorized City of Fresno employee.  Businesses who pay their tax on an annual basis will not receive their Tax Certificate until they have paid their annual tax.

Where is the Reporting Period printed?

For businesses which report gross receipts, you will find the Reporting Period listed as part of the instructions and on the payment coupon of the form.

Is the Tax Certificate Expiration Date the payment due date?

No.  The Business Tax Return payment due date can be found on the tax return.  The tax payment is generally due on the last day of the first month of each tax period.  The timely payment renews the Tax Certificate through the last day of the tax period (the expiration date).

What do I do if I didn't receive my tax return, and it's nearing the due date?

You can pay the current tax period renewal online by credit or debit card at www.businesstax.fresno.gov/webrenewals/ .  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code from your current tax return, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during normal working hours.

To pay by mail:
If you pay a flat rate, and you are not required to report gross receipts, then simply write your account number on the face of your check, and mail it to the Attn:  Mail Processing Clerk, PO Box 45017, Fresno, CA  93718-5017.

If you are required to report gross receipts each period,  and you have a copy of a previous period’s tax return, make a copy of it, line through the older reporting period dates (found on the instructions or coupon portion of the return), write in the correct reporting period dates, and initial the change.  Write “altered” at the top of the form.  Then fill out the form with the correct information.  Be sure to sign and date the form, and write your daytime phone number under the “prepared by” line.  Then mail the form and check to Attn: Mail Processing Clerk, PO Box 45017, Fresno, CA  93718-5017.

If you do not have a copy of a previous period’s tax return, take a piece of paper and write down your account number, your business name, the reporting period, your gross receipts for that period, and the tax you believe is due.  Sign, date and provide a daytime phone number.  Then mail the form and check to Attn: Mail Processing Clerk, PO Box 45017, Fresno, CA  93718-5017.

You can also file your tax return by coming into our public counter.  We are located in Fresno City Hall, at Tulare Street and P Street, First Floor, Room 1096.   Our office hours are Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What if the business tax due date falls on a weekend or holiday?

Payments postmarked or received at the counter on the first business day following a weekend or holiday due date will be considered as timely.  You can also pay the current tax period renewal online by credit or debt card at www.businesstax.fresno.gov/webrenewals/.  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code from your current tax return, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during normal working hours.

Can I pay my business tax using a bank-issued check?

Yes, but if you are required to report gross receipts to us, you also need to send us your Business Tax Return separately in order for your payment to be properly posted to your account.  So, if the check will come from a different source than the completed Business Tax Return, follow these directions:

  • On the check, make sure your business account number appears on the memo line;
  • On the Tax Return, write “check sent separately” across the form, sign, date and provide a daytime phone number; and
  • Either fax the Tax Return to (559) 498-2544, Attn:  Mail Processing Clerk, or mail it to Attn: Mail Processing Clerk, PO Box 45017, Fresno, CA  93718-5017.

The mail processing clerk will make every effort to match your tax return with your bank-issued check.

Can I call in my business tax payment?

At this time, we are unable to take payments over the phone.  However, you can pay the current tax period renewal online by credit or debit card at www.businesstax.fresno.gov/webrenewals.  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code from your current tax return, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during normal working hours.

What is the SB1186 fee?

It is a California state mandated fee, written into law in September 2012.   All cities in California, including the City of Fresno, are required to collect the fee from all businesses on behalf of the State of California.  The fee in the amount of one dollar ($1.00) is collected when a business applies for or renews a tax certificate issued by the City of Fresno after January 1, 2013.

Why is it being collected?

The fee is collected in support of a state mandated disability access and education fund.  It will be used to increase awareness and compliance with federal and state ADA laws.

What happens to the money?

The City retains 70% of the money to carry out the mission of education and compliance through the work of Certified Americans with Disabilities Act Specialists (CASps) employed by the City of Fresno Development and Resource Management Department (DARM).  The CASps will consult with business owners before or during the building permit process, to be sure all ADA requirements are met.  30% of the money will go to the State Architect’s Office to oversee the SB1186 program.

Who has to pay the fee?

All businesses applying for a tax certificate or renewing an existing tax certificate after 01/01/2013 are required to pay one dollar ($1.00) at the time of issuance.

Who doesn’t have to pay the fee?

Any organization, agency, or entity that operates in the City of Fresno but is exempt from paying business tax is not required to pay the SB1186 fee.  This includes but is not restricted to non-profit organizations and charitable agencies.  If you are not sure if you should pay the fee, please contact the Business Tax Division at (559) 621-6880 for further assistance.

Whom can the taxpayer contact at the state level?

Please access the web sites below for information about the business owner’s legal obligation regarding disability access and compliance.

The Division of the State Architect
The Department of Rehabilitation
The California Commission on Disability Access

Whom can the taxpayer contact at the state level about the law itself?

To read the law

Open the pdf document.

To discuss the bill and its passage, the taxpayer may contact their local California state representative for assistance:

Assemblyman Henry T. Perea     (559) 445-5532
Senator Michael J. Rubio              (559) 264-3070

I don’t see my question.

Please contact Customer Service at (559) 621-6880, Monday – Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Or email us at businesstax@fresno.gov.

Additional Information
How do I pay the fees for the online application form?

After you have submitted the online application, your application will be reviewed by Business Tax staff by the end of the next working day.  Once approved, an email will be sent to you with your new tax account number and web security code, and a link to pay the application fees and any initial tax by credit or debit card through our online payment site.

I am experiencing problems with the online application.

For best results, please make sure Adobe Reader is installed on your device.

NOTE:  When the application has been successfully submitted, you should see a message giving you the opportunity to print the application for your records.  If you do not see this confirmation or are experiencing other technical difficulties, please contact Customer Service at (559) 621-6880, Monday- Friday, 10 am – 5 pm.  Please DO NOT submit the application again.