Business License & Tax FAQs

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Contact Information

Q.  What are your office hours and location?

A.  The office hours and location are listed below.

  • Office Hours:  Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    * On the third Friday of every month our office hours are 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Physical Location:  The City of Fresno Business Tax Division is located in City Hall on the corner of Tulare Street and P Street, 2600 Fresno Street, Second Floor, Room 2162.
  • Preferred Mailing Address:  PO Box 45017, Fresno CA  93718-5017
  • E-mail:  businesstax@fresno.gov
  • Phone Number:  (559) 621-6880
  • Website: www.Fresno.gov
Application

Q.  Who must obtain a business license?

A.  Any person or entity within the City of Fresno must first obtain all required documentation prior to conducting business within the City limits. Please see the New Business Checklist or the Municipal Code Article 10 Section 7 for further information.

 

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

A.  This certificate is for tax purposes and is not considered a business permit. You must meet all other requirements for your business in addition to obtaining this certificate. Please see the Municipal Code Article 10 Section 7 for further information.

 

Q.  Why is business tax collected?

A.  To help fund City of Fresno services such as police, fire, streets, parks, economic developments and general administration.

 

Q.  I own commercial buildings or residential properties and rent them out to others.  Do I have to pay a business tax?

A.  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) in the City of Fresno, 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) in the City of Fresno, you are exempt from paying business tax since you are under the threshold of four.  The living unit you live in is exempt from this rule and should not be counted as one of the four living units.

 

Q.  How do I apply for a business tax account?

A.  NOTICE: Before you apply for a new business tax certificate, you are required to obtain a zone clearance for your business location from the City of Fresno Planning & Development Department. Please contact the Planning Division to begin the approval process at its location in Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Room 3043, Fresno, CA.  .  You may also apply online for the zone clearance at the City of Fresno Citizen Access site or contact the department at (559) 621-8277 or email planning@fresno.gov. It is your responsibility to check with the Fresno Police Department and Fire Department to determine any additional requirements for your business in your proposed location.

Our application form is available online or as a printable PDF.

You can submit the completed application online.  Once your application has been reviewed, a code will be sent to your e-mail address to make the payment for the fees.  You can pay the application fees online by using VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card.  A 2.3% convenience fee is added to every credit card charge.

Alternatively, you can mail the completed printable application and payment of $14.00 (application processing fee and state-mandated fee) to the P.O. Box mailing address listed on the application.  Please make your check or money order payable to “City of Fresno”. If there are any additional requirements, we will contact you.

You may also file the application in person by coming to our public counter at Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Room 2162 during Business Tax’s business hours.

 

Q.  I am experiencing problems with the online application.

A.  For best results, please make sure Adobe Reader is installed on your device. You may also want to try a different web browser.

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 during Business Tax’s business hours.

 

Q.  What is the AB1379 or SB1186 fee?

A.  It is a California state-mandated fee, written into law in October 2017.   All cities in California are required to collect the fee from all businesses on behalf of the State of California in support of a state mandated disability access and education fund.  The four dollar ($4.00) fee is collected when a business applies for or renews a tax certificate issued by the City of Fresno after January 1, 2018.

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 AB1379 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 Unit at (559) 621-6880 for further assistance.

Monies collected through this fee are kept with the City of Fresno to pay for accessibility improvements at City facilities. To learn more about how the City of Fresno uses those fees, visit Accessible Fresno Small Business Initiative.

 

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

A.  Please see “The Fresno Startup Guide”, a consolidated booklet of participating agencies offering startup resources.  Copies are available in both English and Spanish.

Renewal Information

Q.  How are business taxes determined?

A.  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. Please see the Current Master Fee Schedule for further information.

 

Q.  How do I know when to renew, and when are business taxes due?

A.  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 based on postmark.  This percentage is cumulative and is applied every 30 day period.

 

Q.  How do I renew online?

A.  When it is time to renew, you can pay the current tax period renewal online on our Business Tax Website using a VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card.  A, 2.3% convenience fee is charged whenever your business tax is paid with a credit 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, e-mailing your request to businesstax@fresno.gov, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s business hours.

 

Q.  Where and how can I pay the city business tax?

A.  The following are ways to pay the city business tax:

  • Online – You can pay the current tax period renewal online at Business Tax Website using a VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover card.   A 2.3% service fee is charged whenever your business tax is paid with a credit card.  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code by either using the preprinted number from your current tax return, e-mailing a request for a number to businesstax@fresno.gov, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s operating hours.
  • By Mail – The tax return can be mailed and postmarked by the due date with a check or money order made payable to “City of Fresno.”  Mail to: City of Fresno Business Tax, PO Box 45017, Fresno CA  93718-5017.
  • Courier Service – Any overnight business tax payments should be addressed to: City of Fresno Business Tax, 2600 Fresno St, Rm 2162, Fresno CA  93721.
  • In Person – You can pay in person at the public counter in Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Room 2162, during Business Tax’s business hours.
  • Dropbox – There is a dropbox located just outside of the Utility Billing office on the first floor of City Hall, available during the hours that City Hall is open, 7:00 am – 6:00 pm.

 

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

A.  Yes.  However, 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.  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 tax account number appears on the memo line or check remittance.
  • On the Tax Return, write “check sent separately” across the form, sign, date, and provide a daytime phone number, and email address.
  • Immediately email us your Tax Return at businesstax@fresno.gov to ensure your payment can be processed, once it is received.

If you have questions as to the status of this payment, you may contact Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s business hours.

 

Q.  Can I call in my business tax payment?

A.  Not at this time.  Due to credit card security reasons, we are unable to take payments over the phone.

 

Q.  Is the Tax Certificate expiration date the due date?

A.  No.   The Tax Certificate will be valid through the last day of the tax period and will be shown on the certificate. A business is responsible for providing their Business Tax payment within 30 days after the expiration date shown on the tax certificate.  Once payment is received and posted, a new business certificate will be issued.

 

Q.  What do I do if I did not receive my tax return, and it is nearing the due date?

A.  You can pay the current tax period renewal online on our Business Tax Website using a VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover card.   A 2.3% service fee is charged whenever payment is made by credit card.  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code either by using the preprinted number from a previous tax return, by e-mailing us at businesstax@fresno.gov, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s business hours.

To pay by mail:
If you pay a flat rate and are not required to report gross receipts, then simply write your account number on the face of your check and mail that into our office.

If you are required to report gross receipts, contact our office for a copy of the current tax return at (559) 621-6880 or email businesstax@fresno.gov.  The tax return along with a check or money order made payable to “City of Fresno” must be mailed and postmarked by the due date to avoid late fees and penalties.

You may also pay in person at the Business Tax public counter in Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Room 2162, during Business Tax’s business hours.

 

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

A.  You can pay the current tax period renewal online at our Business Tax Website using a VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover card.  A 2.3% service fee is charged whenever payment is made by credit card.  You must have your tax account number, web security code, and your card number ready.  You can obtain your web security code from a previous tax return, by emailing us at businesstax@fresno.gov, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s business hours.

Payments postmarked or received at the counter on the first business day following a weekend or holiday due date will be considered as timely.

 

Q.  Where is the tax reporting period printed?

A.  For businesses which report gross receipts, you will find the reporting period(s) listed as part of the instructions and on the payment coupon(s).

Tax Certificate

Q.  How long will it take me to receive my Tax Certificate?

A.  Please allow up to 10 business days from the date your tax payment is posted to the account to receive your certificate.  Your account must be paid in full to receive a link for the Tax Certificate.  If we have your email address on file, you will receive an email with a link to your tax certificate.  If you have not provided an email address, the tax certificate will be mailed to you.

If you need a duplicate tax certificate, you may contact our office to make a request.  If your tax account is up to date, we can e-mail you link to your current certificate.  Please email us at businesstax@fresno.gov or call us at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s office hours.

 

Q.  I received my Tax Return, but I did not receive my Tax Certificate – Why?

A.  In April 2019, our office mailed out a notice to all tax payers stating that the October 2019 Tax Returns would no longer include the Tax Certificate.

Once your tax payment has been posted to your account in full, the Tax Certificates will be sent electronically or by mail within 10 business days.

 

Q.  I submitted my Tax Return and payment but have not received a Tax Certificate – why?

A.  If you have not received a Tax Certificate after having submitted your tax return, one of the following may have occurred:

  • Your account may be delinquent if you have not paid all of taxes due.
  • Your account may not have the most current email or mailing address.

Please email us at businesstax@fresno.gov, or call us at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s office hours to confirm the status of your account.

 

Q.  How do I update my tax records or get information?

A.  You have the option to e-mail us any changes at businesstax@fresno.gov.  You may also report changes online at Business Tax Website. You must have your tax account number and web security code ready.  You can obtain your web security code from your current tax return, by e-mail, or by contacting Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s operating hours.

Changes can also be made in person at our public counter with an authorized owner or agent present.  It is the business owner’s responsibility to report to our office any changes or closures to the business.

 

Q.  I am selling my business.  Do I give the tax certificate to the new owner?

A.  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.

 

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

A.  You may access the City of Fresno Business Directory or the City of Fresno New Business Directory  for general information regarding businesses in our database.

You can also e-mail us at businesstax@fresno.gov, or call us at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s  office hours.

 

Q.  How do I register a complaint about a business?

A.  You can call the Better Business Bureau to register complaints about a business at (559) 222-8111.  The Business Tax Unit 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. Our unit 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 the above permitted categories, please email us at businesstax@fresno.gov, or call us at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s office hours.

Zone Clearance

Q.  Where may I conduct my business?

A.  Property use is regulated by the Fresno Municipal Code zoning laws and the Planning & Development Department.  For City of Fresno-based businesses, an approved Zone Clearance will be required before we can process a Business Tax Application in most cases.  You may apply for a zone clearance online using the City of Fresno FAASTER website.  You may also contact the Planning & Development Department for further information.  Their office is located in City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Third Floor, Room 3043.  Their office hours are Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Additional Information

Q.  I do not see my question.

A.  Please e-mail us at businesstax@fresno.gov, or contact Customer Service at (559) 621-6880 during Business Tax’s office hours.