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Business Tax Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a Business Tax Certificate?

City of San Diego Municipal Code Section 31.0121 states that no person shall engage in any business, trade calling, or occupation until a certificate of payment is obtained. Self-employed persons and independent contractors are also required to pay the Business Tax. A separate Business Tax Certificate must be obtained for each branch establishment of business location. New businesses must register with the Business Tax Program no later than 15 days from the business start date to avoid late fees.

Do I need to display my Business Tax Certificate?

Yes. Any person or entity engaged in business at a fixed place of business shall keep the certificate posted in a conspicuous place upon the premises where such business is conducted. Any person engaged in business in the City of San Diego, but not operating from a fixed place of business, shall keep the certificate issued to him or her at all times while engaging in such business.

How do I transfer my Business Tax Certificate?

A Business Tax Certificate is not transferable in the case of a change of ownership. It is the responsibility of the owner to advise the Business Tax Office of ownership changes, relocation, or termination of business. You may contact our staff at (619) 615-1500 or by email btax@sandiego.gov.

I conduct business in several cities. Can I get one Business Tax Certificate to do business in ALL of them?

No. Each city has its own Business Tax requirement and you must have a certificate from the jurisdiction business is being conducted in.

Do I need a Business Tax Certificate if I work out of my home?

Yes. Businesses operated from the home also require payment of a Business Tax Certificate.

I do a small amount of consulting and all my clients are located outside the City. Does this require a Business Tax Certificate?

Yes. If your consultancy is based from a location in the City, a Business Tax Certificate will be required for that location. The number of clients and where they are located does not have any bearing on whether a Business Tax Certificate is required since the requirement applies to your business.

Will a renewal notice be sent by The Office of the City Treasurer?

Although The Office of the City Treasurer does issue renewal notices as a courtesy to businesses, The Office of the City Treasurer is not required to send a notice or bill to any person. Failure to send such notice or bill shall not affect the validity of any fee or penalty due hereunder, or the duty of such person to pay required taxes.

Do I need a Seller's Permit?

If you sell tangible personal property, you are required to obtain a Seller's Permit from the State Board of Equalization (SBE) for the purpose of collecting and reporting sales tax to the State of California. To obtain a Seller's Permit contact the SBE at (800) 400-7115 or you can apply in person at 15015 Avenue of Science, suite 200, San Diego, CA 92128.

Do I need to apply for a Fictitious Business Name?

Any person who regularly transacts business for profit, under a Fictitious Business Name in the County of San Diego, is required to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the Recorder/County Clerk within 40 days of first transacting business. For additional information call (619) 237-0502 or visit County Assessor's Website