Business Tax Requirements
Frequently Asked Questions when starting a business within city limits:
Who needs a Tax Certificate and Why?
Any person or business having a location within the city limits of Tallahassee that engages in any business activity must pay an occupational business tax and obtain a Business Tax Certificate.
Business Tax Certificates expire September 30 and may be renewed on or after July 1 of each year. On October 1, they are delinquent and subject to penalties each month thereafter. New certificates are issued at any time during the year and are prorated January 1 and April 1.
A Business Tax Certificate (formerly called occupational license) is issued by the City of Tallahassee Treasurer Clerk for the privilege of engaging in any business, occupation or profession. Anyone providing merchandise or services to the public, even through a one-person company or home-based occupation, must obtain a Business Tax Certificate. A City of Tallahassee Business Tax Certificate does not replace or eliminate any other city or state requirements for taxes or licenses.
Businesses that open and are operating for business prior to obtaining a Business Tax Certificate are subject to a 25% penalty on the assessed business tax. This penalty and the penalties for late renewal of the Business Tax Certificate is pursuant to the Florida State Statue 205.053, which states:
- All licenses shall be sold by the appropriate tax collector beginning July 1 of each year, are due and payable on or before September 30 of each year, and expire on September 30 of the succeeding year. If September 30 falls on a weekend or holiday, the tax is due and payable on or before the first working day following September 30. Provisions for partial licenses may be made in the resolution or ordinance authorizing such licenses. Licenses that are not renewed when due and payable are delinquent and subject to a delinquency penalty of 10 percent for the month of October, plus an additional 5 percent penalty for each subsequent month of delinquency until paid. However, the total delinquency penalty may not exceed 25 percent of the occupational license tax for the delinquent establishment.
- Any person who engages in or manages any business, occupation, or profession without first obtaining a local occupational license, if required, is subject to a penalty of 25 percent of the license due, in addition to any other penalty provided by law or ordinance.
- Any person who engages in any business, occupation, or profession covered by this chapter, who does not pay the required occupational license tax within 150 days after the initial notice of tax due, and who does not obtain the required occupational license is subject to civil actions and penalties, including court costs, reasonable attorneys' fees, additional administrative costs incurred as a result of collection efforts, and a penalty of up to $250.
City of Tallahassee Code of Ordinance Chapter 18 Sec. 18-33. Business tax certificate required.
Any person who engages in or manages any business, occupation or profession for which there is a business tax required by this chapter or any other ordinance of the city, must have a valid business tax certificate from the city treasurer-clerk or his designee. Any sign, advertisement, building occupancy, directory listing or activity indicating that a business, calling, profession or occupation is being conducted at a location within this municipality shall be prima facie evidence that a person is liable for a business tax certificate.
- (Code 1984, § 22-52; Ord. No. 95-O-0007AA, § 1, 5-10-1995)
Sec. 18-34. Separate business tax for each location and business activity.
A tax certificate shall be obtained for each location including branches of the business within the city as if the branch or location were a separate business, unless prohibited by F.S. ch. 205. A tax certificate shall also be obtained for each unique and different type of business activity. Whenever any business, occupation or profession shall fall into more than one of the classifications contained in the schedule set forth in this article, such occupation, business, or profession shall be required to comply with the tax requirements and to pay the business tax imposed under or pertaining to each classification or privilege. The city treasurer-clerk or his designee shall have the authority to determine the classification for each business activity. All business activities shall be assigned to at least one of the approved classifications. Many of the classifications are general in nature, and a more complete list of the businesses contained in each classification will be maintained by the treasurer-clerk.
- (Code 1984, § 22-53; Ord. No. 95-O-0007AA, § 1, 5-10-1995)
How do I apply for a Tax Certificate?
The Application/Declaration for a City of Tallahassee Business Tax Certificate can be obtained by:
- Calling (850) 891-6488
- Sending in a written request
- Downloading the City of Tallahassee Business Tax Certificate (PDF) and mailing the completed form to the below mentioned address:
City of Tallahassee
300 S. Adams St., Box A-4
Tallahassee, FL 32301
- Visiting the City's Tax and Revenue Section, which is located at:
435 N Macomb Street
How much is my Business Tax?
Business Taxes are calculated based on specific variables depending on the classification of each business activity. There are minimum charges and maximum variables that may apply for each business classification. Therefore, a call to the City of Tallahassee Revenue Division can generally clear up any questions that may arise when completing the application. Submitting the form without calling will result in a business tax invoice being mailed to the mailing address from the completed form based on the activities and variables declared. Additional invoicing may be required once the variables are verified.
In addition, the Business Tax is calculated based on the Business Tax Fiscal Year (10/1 - 9/30). Therefore, it is imperative that the applicant includes the date the business opened.
When is my Tax due?
A Business Tax Certificate is required before the business activities begin. Therefore, purchasing the Tax Certificate prior to opening the business is the first tax payment. In the State of Florida, all Business Tax Certificates (Occupational Licenses) expire on September 30. Therefore, the annual tax amount must be paid prior to October 1 each year. Generally, in late April or early May of each year, a Declaration of Information Form will be mailed to most City of Tallahassee Businesses. The renewal form must be completed and returned prior to June 15. This Renewal Form is the opportunity for the business to change annual variables that may apply (Inventory, square footage, number of employees, etc). Failure to complete and return the form will result in an increased tax amount that is applicable for the next business tax year beginning October 1. Professional and some home-based business accounts will not receive an annual renewal form since the variables assigned to the business activity cannot change.
Renewal by Mail
Declaration renewal notices are sent out by May 1 to those accounts that paid a business tax for the last fiscal year. The Revenue Division mails this declaration as a courtesy. Simply complete and return the renewal notice to the City of Tallahassee Revenue Division before June 15, and a Business Tax invoice based on the declared values (plus a 25% penalty for not declaring) will be mailed to the current mailing address around August 15. Simply return the invoice to the City of Tallahassee Revenue Division, along with a check or money order for the amount of the Business Tax made payable to the City of Tallahassee. New Business Tax Certificates will be mailed generally within 10-days of receipt of payment. Tax Certificates for annual renewals will be mailed after October 1.
Am I exempt?
Non-profits businesses that have obtained a 501 (c) 3 tax exemption are exempt from the business tax. However, obtaining a Business Tax Certificate is still required, but at no charge. There are also other exceptions for senior citizens, widows/widowers, farmers, schools, religious or charity fund raising organizations or business properties within the Historic Preservation Overlay (HPO). Please contact the Revenue office at (850) 891-8194 for assistance in determining exemption status. A business tax certificate may be required, but at no charge.
Can I operate a business from a home?
Yes and No. Certain businesses can operate from a residential property. However, the business must be invisible to the public. Please review any applicable neighborhood covenants, which may restrict such activities thereby restricting the issuance of a Business Tax Certificate or cause zoning violations. Before applying for a home-based business tax certificate, contact your Homeowners association and obtain the current covenants. Make sure to complete the home-based requirements form and forward with the business tax application.
Is a State License required prior to obtaining the City of Tallahassee Business Tax Certificate?
If the State of Florida requires a license for the business activity, the State license must be obtained prior to receiving the City of Tallahassee's Business Tax Certificate.
Examples of Special Business Activities (contact the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 487-2252 for detailed listing):
- Food Services (Department of Business and Professional Regulations)
- Motor Vehicle Repair (Department of Agriculture)
- Professional (Certification or License)
- Fictitious Name (A prerequisite to receiving a Business Tax Certificate is the applicant or new owner must present to the Tax Collector's Office either a copy of the applicant's fictitious name registration, issued by the Division of Corporations of the Department of State, or a written statement, signed by the applicant or new owner, which sets forth the reason that the applicant or new owner need not comply with the Fictitious Name Act.)
Calculating the number of rental units for an Apartment Complex.
The business tax is calculated based on the rental unit. Therefore, a single apartment rented as an apartment is 1 unit. Apartment complexes or leasing agents that lease or rent by the bedroom, should calculate the number of available bedrooms within each apartment. Therefore, a 3-bedroom apartment that leases each individual bedroom would be consider 3 units instead of 1 unit. It is very important to make this determination and declare the actual number of "Rentable" units each year. Failure to declare will result in the tax amount being increased by 25% each year.
If I have a City of Tallahassee Tax Certificate do I need a Leon County Occupational License?
Is there a form that provides phone numbers and/or web addresses for other agencies requiring licenses or certificates?
Yes; please refer to Business Start Up page. Occasionally, a phone number or web-address may change. If you find an error, please notify our office by calling (850) 891-6488