When and How to Apply for a Business License
All business owners, including owners of home-based businesses, are subject to the BPOL tax. Business owners are required to register their business with the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) within 75 days of beginning business operations in Fairfax County. If not filed within 75 days, a 10% penalty for late filing will apply.
Business owners must renew their BPOL License each year. Both filing and payment are due by March 1. If the filing deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or county holiday, the deadline is the following business day. A 10% penalty for late filing will be assessed for renewals submitted after March 1.
Businesses registered with DTA in the previous year will receive a renewal application in the mail in January. First time applicants may download the BPOL Application from our website.
You will need the following information to complete the form:
- IRS taxpayer ID number (FEIN)
- NAICS Code
- Owner name
- Trade name
- Business address
- Description of business
- Estimated first year gross receipts/purchases
- Begin date
- Authorized Signature/Title
- Contact Information
Completed filing forms may be submitted to DTA in one of the following ways:
- Mail to:
Department of Tax Administration
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223
Fairfax, VA 22035
- Fax to 703-324-3505
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
A BPOL tax bill will be sent for any faxed or emailed filing forms. Once the taxes are paid in full, you will receive your business license.
Most businesses, professions, trades, and occupations are assessed a license tax based on gross receipts for the prior year. For wholesale merchants, the license tax is based on gross purchases rather than gross receipts.
Exclusions from gross receipts are set out in Fairfax County Code § 4-7.2-1(b) and Code of Virginia Title 58.1. A complete listing of exclusions from gross receipts can be found on the County’s BPOL Exclusion Worksheet (Form 8TA-EX) or by contacting our office. All exclusion requests must be attached to the BPOL Exclusion Worksheet along with required documentation.
Receipts of venture capital or other investment funds are excluded from taxation, except commissions and fees.
The County's BPOL Ordinance requires an estimate for the first partial and the subsequent first full calendar year of operation. Although the first two years of operation require an estimate of gross receipts (or purchases, for wholesale merchants), in reality, the tax is based on actual gross receipts, since adjustments are made at the end of each tax year during the estimating phase.
First Year (partial of operation) - A business makes an initial gross receipt estimate of $160,000. If the actual gross receipts at the end of the year are $135,000, an adjustment of $25,000 is made. This amount would be refunded if the business ended at that time or credited on the next tax year if the business continues. The ultimate tax effectively levied would be on the actual gross receipts of $135,000.
Second Year (first year completed from January 1 through December 31) - The tax basis would be a new gross receipt estimate for the full year. The tax bill would be based on the new gross receipts estimate plus the adjustment (+ or -) of the difference between the initial gross receipts estimate and the actual prior year gross receipts, as described for the first year.
Third Year (second year completed from January 1 through December 31; estimate no longer required) - The tax bill would be based on the actual prior year gross receipts, plus an adjustment (+ or -) of the difference between the prior year new gross receipts estimate and the actual prior year gross receipts.
For all subsequent calendar years, the BPOL tax is based solely on the prior year actual gross receipts.
BPOL FLAT FEES AND RATES
Businesses with gross receipts/purchases of $100,000 or less pay a flat fee, as follows:
- There is no fee for businesses with gross receipts/purchases of $10,000 or less.
- For businesses with gross receipts/purchases of $10,001 - $50,000, the fee is $30.
- For businesses with gross receipts/purchases of $50,001 - $100,000, the fee is $50.
- If gross receipts/purchases are $100,001 or more, then the BPOL tax rate applies . The tax rate varies based on the nature of the business and is specified in the BPOL Ordinance (Fairfax County Code Section 4-7.2).
Businesses have the right to request written interpretive ruling from the Director of DTA. Local audit decisions can be appealed to the Virginia Tax Commissioner.
If a business which has paid a BPOL tax ceases to operate, a refund may be obtained for the portion of the tax already paid.
Businesses located in the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Alexandria, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna are not subject to county BPOL tax, but should contact those jurisdictions for license tax requirements. Businesses located in the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna are required to file business tangible personal property returns with the county.
For more information, please refer to the BPOL Rate Schedule or the BPOL Ordinance, call 703-222-8234, option 3 [TTY 711] to speak to a member of our staff, or email us at email@example.com
Some businesses are required to obtain additional licenses and permits. Contact information for other state and county agencies who administer these licenses and permits is available from our website.