Business License & Business Tax Certificate FAQ's
Who needs a business license? How do I apply? When must I apply?
All individuals, corporations, firms, syndicates, joint stock corporations, partnerships, trusts, associations, organizations, clubs, and societies which offer goods, materials, commodities, wares, merchandise or services for sale to the public in Culver City and all professions, crafts, trades, occupations and callings of every kind and nature which are carried on for profit in Culver City are required to obtain a business tax certificate (also known as a business license) within 30 days of starting business.
A business tax certificate is required whether the business actually makes a profit or not. Independent contractors must obtain a business tax certificate. Non-profit organizations are required to obtain a business tax certificate but are exempted from paying business tax on those activities for which they have I.R.S. proof of tax exemption.
The only entities exempt from obtaining a business tax certificate are homeowner associations and employees of a business.
A business tax certificate is not a permit to operate - it is simply a receipt for payment of business tax.
Depending on the type of business and the location, Culver City, Los Angeles County and the state may require various permits to operate.
Required business tax certificate application forms are available online here
or from the Finance Department at City Hall, 9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232, 310-253-5870.
For businesses based at a Culver City address (including P.O. Boxes) the business owner or his representative must submit the application in person to the Finance Department. If I operate a business from my home, do I need a business license? Are there any restrictions on home based businesses?
Businesses operated from any location or address within Culver City, including a residential address, are required to obtain a business tax certificate.
Businesses operated from a residence must abide by the following requirements of the Culver City zoning code:
What are the business tax rates? When are taxes due? What is the penalty for late payment?
- No disruption to the neighborhood.
- No clients/customers on the premises.
- No disturbing noise, vibrations, etc.
- No employees on the premises.
- No advertising or signs.
- No storage of materials.
- No parking of commercial vehicles.
Business taxes are due upon receipt of the business tax certificate renewal notice which is mailed in early December of each year. Business tax becomes delinquent if not paid by the last day of February. Late payment carries a penalty of 20% per month up to 100% of the amount due.
Business tax rates depend on the type of business activity. Most business activities are taxed on the basis of gross receipts - that is, the total amount of money taken in by the business, whether they made a profit or not. Businesses which have not generated any gross receipts during the tax year are taxed on the basis of their cost of operations.
Wholesale/retail sales and most services are taxed at a rate of $1 per $1,000 of gross receipts. Consulting and most professional services are taxed at a rate of $3 per $1,000 of gross receipts. Other business activities (such as commercial vehicles, vending machines or warehouses) are taxed on a unit basis. Contact the Treasury Division at 310-253-5870 for the business tax rate on a specific business activity. I wasn't notified, and I wasn't aware that I needed a business license until I had already been in business for over two years, am I still required to pay back taxes along with penalties?
The requirement for a business tax certificate and payment of business tax is a uniform requirement for nearly all cities in California. It is the business owner's responsibility to determine the city's requirements for taxes, fees, permits, zoning, signage, etc. before starting business. A business is responsible for payment of business tax from the date that they started doing business. If they are delinquent in paying tax, then they are required to pay late payment penalties in addition to the tax obligation. I have been paying Los Angeles business license taxes for over 2 years and now I am told that I am located in Culver City, do I have to pay taxes to Culver City for those two years and penalties even though I have already paid Los Angeles in error?
Taxes are due to Culver City from the date that business operations actually commenced. Business owners who have erroneously paid tax to Los Angeles are entitled to request Los Angeles for a refund of tax paid in error. Is a separate business license required for each separate location, different dba's, and each type/activity of business at the same location?
The Culver City Municipal Code requires that a separate business tax certificate be obtained for each location of a business, each "dba" or name of a business, and each type of business activity at the same location. For example, a business which provides both retail and wholesale sales and repair services at the same location is required to have a separate business tax certificate for each of these three separate business activities. A restaurant business with four different locations is required to have a separate business tax certificate for each location. Is it a violation of the CCMC to operate a business without first applying for a business tax certificate?
Business owners are subject to separate citations for each day that a business operates without a business tax certificate. Each citation for failure to obtain a business tax certificate is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. Is a business located outside of Culver City, but coming into Culver City to provide goods or services, required to apply for a city license?
All businesses operating within the City are required to obtain a business tax certificate, no matter where their main office may be located. If we are a non-profit organization are we still required to apply for a city license?
Non-profit organizations are required to obtain a business tax certificate but are exempted from paying business tax on those activities for which they have I.R.S. proof of tax exemption. If they engage in activities which are not related to their non-profit functions, then they are required to pay local business tax on those business activities which are not related to their non-profit status. If I own an apartment building or rental property do I need a business license?
Renting accommodation to the public to provided shelter or space is a business activity which requires a business license. Is the business license good for the next twelve months?
The business tax certificate is valid for the current calendar year, January through December. It must be renewed for each year that the business is in operation. Can I get a business license today?
Certificates are available over the counter at the Finance Department on the first floor of City Hall. The application process takes only a few minutes, and the receipt for payment acts as a temporary business tax certificate. Permanent Business Tax
Certificates are issued within two weeks of receipt of a complete application. Where is the business license office located?
Certificates are issued by the Treasury Division, located on the first floor of City Hall at 9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City CA 90232 Will my business license be good in Los Angeles or other cities?
No, each city issues its own business license and assesses its own tax. A Culver City business tax certificate is valid only for operations within Culver City. Are there any incentives available to new businesses?
The Culver City Redevelopment Agency has a number of programs and incentives for businesses which wish to locate within the City. For information on incentives, contact the Redevelopment Agency at 310-253-5760.