Starting a Business Step 4: Tax Obligations

Your Business may have tax obligations to the federal government, the Commonwealth of Virginia and Fairfax County. Please consult a tax specialist to determine what your obligations are.

Federal

Most businesses need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, which is used to identify a business entity. EINs are issued by the IRS.

Virginia

Determine whether you need to register at Virginia Tax. Typically, any business which sells any goods (but not services) will need to do so.

If you plan to hire employees, you can register with the Virginia Employment Commission.

Fairfax County

Get Your Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL)

All businesses with a physical location in Fairfax Countyincluding home-based businessesmust have a business license called a Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL).

Businesses located in the cities of Fairfax, and Falls Church, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna (except construction contractors) are not subject to Fairfax County's BPOL tax, but you should contact those jurisdictions for business license requirements.

  • Businesses located in the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna secure a business license from the appropriate town, but pay Business Tangible Property Tax to Fairfax County.
Construction Contractors who do any work in Fairfax County: see the Business Specific Guide for Contractors for special BPOL instructions.

Deadlines

File for BPOL within 75 days of beginning operations in Fairfax County. Failure to register within 75 days will result in a 10% late filing penalty. You can file online, by mail, or in person. Beginning operations can be thought of as when you register your business with the State Corporation Commission or the Circuit Court, or when you sign a lease for commercial space.

Business owners must renew their BPOL License each year. Both filing and payment are due by March 1. Failure to register within 75 days will result in a 10% late filing penalty. Businesses registered with DTA in the previous year will receive a renewal application in the mail in January.

BPOL is an annual tax, based on the gross receipts of your business. You do not have to pay BPOL taxes until the company gross receipts are greater than $10,000 within a calendar year, but you should not wait to reach that threshold before you get your BPOL license.

BPOL Tips

  • If you apply in person for BPOL, ask for a temporary BPOL certificate that will be given to you while you wait – this is helpful if you need to arrange business checking accounts and for other paperwork. If you apply by mail, the process can take 4-6 weeks.
     
  • If your business is home-based, you do not need to fill out the information about rent on the BPOL application.

File & Pay Business Tangible Property Taxes

All businesses operating in Fairfax County must file business tangible property tax. This tax applies to any tangible property, including computers, furniture, equipment, machinery and tools, located in Fairfax County on January 1 of the current year.

Businesses located in the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna secure a business license from the appropriate town, but pay Business Tangible Property Tax to Fairfax County.

File a Business Return of Tangible Personal Property form with the Department of Tax Administration by May 1 and pay these taxes by October 5. Businesses may file for Business Tangible Property Tax either by mail, email, fax, or in person.


Additional fact sheets prepared by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (EDA): Taxes – State and Local Business Taxes and Workforce Resources for Employers.

Business-Specific Licenses & Permits

Depending on your business type, there may be other Fairfax County permits, licenses or taxes required.

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