Business Taxes

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12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223
Fairfax, VA 22035
Young Tarry
Division Director

Understanding Business, Professional & Occupational License Tax

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 notice in the mail in January. 

First time filers will need the following information to complete the form:

  • IRS taxpayer ID number (FEIN), SSN
  • NAICS Code
  • Owner name
  • Trade name
  • Business location and mailing address
  • Description of business
  • Estimated first year gross receipts/purchases
  • Begin date
  • Authorized Signature/Title
  • Contact Information

For businesses classified as “Contractors”, “Builders and Developers”, “Architects”, and “Professional Engineers” there are additional items that must be provided along with your application.

Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Tax Basis

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.

Other Provisions

First-time applicants may also download the BPOL application and mail it to our office.

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, call 703-222-8234, option 4 [TTY 711] to speak to a member of our staff, or email us at

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.

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