A: City law states that no person shall engage in business or represent and carry on a business, trade, profession or occupation in the city without first having obtained a license from the city. A separate license must be must be obtained for each branch establishment or location and for each separate type of business at the same location.
Q: Do I need a State License?
A: Depending on the type of business being conducted. Please consult: Department of Consumer Affairs at www.dca.ca.gov
Building Contractors contact the California Contractors State License Board at www.cslb.ca.gov
Q: My business is operated from a property that is zoned residential within Walnut Creek, is there additional paperwork to file?
A: Yes, you will need to complete and return a Home Occupation Permit. This form and instructions can be located online by clicking here.
Q: Do I need a Sellers Permit?
A: 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 State Board of Equalization at: www.boe.ca.gov
Q: Do I need a Federal Tax Number (FEIN)?
A: An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a federal tax identification number, is used to identify a business entity. Generally a partnership, corporation or LLC business needs an EIN. Most banks require an EIN when opening a corporate bank account. You will need to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at www.irs.gov
Q: What is a DBA?
A: Fictitious Business names and DBA’s are one in the same. A Fictitious Business name is a name that does not include the surname of the individual or a name that suggests the existence of additional owners. To file for a fictitious business name (DBA) contact Contra Costa County Clerk at: www.ccclerkrec.us
Q: Will my information be sold as a mailing list?
A: No. The City of Walnut Creek does not produce business information for the purpose of mailing lists. According to the State of California Public Records Act, the City of Walnut Creek must provide the following non-confidential information of all businesses that may be obtained by anyone for purchase at the Business License counter: business name, business telephone and business address (Municipal Code § 8-6.17)
Q: How do I cancel my business license?
A: If you are no longer conducting business in the City of Walnut Creek it is your responsibility to cancel the business license to avoid penalties, which can reach up to 50% of the fee due. You can close your business license account online at: https://blweb.walnut-creek.org/HdlPrimeWeb/
If you are registered with other government agencies as a business, such as the Contra Costa Clerk or the State Board of Equalization, please remember to cancel with them as well.
Q: How do I transfer my business license?
A: A business license is not transferable to another owner. It is the responsibility of the owner or operator to advise the Business License Office of ownership changes, relocation or termination of business. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (925) 943-5821. We will need something in writing to make any changes to the account.
Q: Do I need additional approval for my business activity?
A: If your business description includes any of the following you may need additional approval:
Food Handling (Health Dept) this includes prepackaged foods of all kinds.
Serving Alcohol (Health Dept & Police Dept)
Taxi Cab (Police Dept)
A residential address (Planning Dept)
Sale of Fire Arms (Police Dept)
Massage Establishment, Technician or Therapist (Police Dept)
Q: What type of ownership do I have?
Sole Proprietorship – A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that is owned by one person or by a husband and wife. You include the income expenses of the business on your own tax return. We must have the owner’s name, home address, phone number, drivers license and social security number.
Partnership – A partnership is the relationship existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business. A partnership is not taxable on the income of the entity. Each partner includes his or her share of the partnerships income or loss on his or her tax return. We must have the partner’s names, home addresses, phone numbers, driver’s licenses and either a social security number or federal tax ID number.
Limited Liability Company – In Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) combines traditional corporate and partnership characteristics. We must have officer’s names, home addresses, phone numbers, drivers licenses and a federal tax ID number.
Corporation – In forming a corporation, prospective shareholders transfer money, property or both for the corporation’s capital stock. The profit of a corporation is taxed to both the corporation and the shareholders when the profit is distributed as dividends. In California, the Secretary of State stamps the number only on the original articles of Incorporation. We must have officer’s names, home addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers and a federal tax ID number.
Q: How can I obtain a copy of my business license?
A: Copies of your current business license can be obtained by either mail or by coming into the business license office. Copies requested by mail will need to be on company letterhead and will be mailed to the mailing address on record. Because of the privacy laws and our municipal code if requesting in person you will need to be able to prove (via picture ID) you have the authority to request this information before the letter will be composed. There is a fee to re-print the certificate, please contact our office for the current cost.
Q: How can I submit my renewal & what forms of payment are accepted?
A: We currently have the following options to submit payment:
By mail: checks
Online: Visa, MasterCard & Discover online
In person: Cash, Checks, Visa, MasterCard & Discover
Q: What are the penalties for failure to pay a renewal on time?
A: Penalties are 25% per month to a maximum of 50% and are assessed 30 days after due. If an account is unpaid after 60 days the tax amount will be assessed and a citation may be issued, continued delinquency at 90 days and the account may be turned over to an outside collection agency.
Expiration Date 6/30 Due on or Before 7/1 25% Penalty 8/1 Additional Penalty 9/1
• If unpaid by 9/1 the tax amount will be assesses & cited.
Once a citation is issued there is a mandatory court appearance.
Q: When is my renewal payment due?
A: Renewal payments are due by the day after your expiration date. If paying by mail, we go by the postmark date and there is no grace period.
Q: Will I receive a renewal?
A: Yes, Courtesy renewal notices are sent at least 30 days prior to the expiration date shown on your Business License Certificate. We will either email or mail a copy of the renewal to the email or mailing address we have on file. It is important to note that failure to receive a courtesy renewal notice is not sufficient reason to waive penalties that may incur due to payments received late. Please remember to keep your business license contact information current.
Q: Do I need to display my business license?
A: Yes, City law requires your certificate to be displayed in a conspicuous place at the location of the business. If you are an out of town business or out call business, please carry a copy of your license with you when working in the city.
Q: I live in Walnut Creek, but my business is located outside the city limits. What are my liabilities for the City of Walnut Creek?
A: As long as all business activity is conducted outside the City of Walnut Creek, there is no need to obtain a City of Walnut Creek Business License Tax Certificate.
Q: My business entity (Corporation, LLC, Partnership, etc) is entirely passive and/or dormant and it is just paying a minimum tax to the Secretary of State. Is it required to get a business license?
A: Yes. If your business entity is registered as active with the Secretary of State and reporting on a business return with the FTB and IRS, it will need a City Business License.
Q: I receive a 1099 form instead of a W-2 from my work. Am I required to have a City of Walnut Creek Business License?
A: Yes, those that work as an independent contractor and are paid by 1099 (versus W-2) are liable for City of Walnut Creek Business License Tax Certificate. State law (Business & Professions Code § 16300) prohibits the imposition of business license tax on employees. In the case of a dispute between a taxpayer and the local agency, the local agency must defer to how the taxpayer reported income to the FTB.
Q: I do some minor consulting on a part-time basis. Do I have to get a Business License?
A: Yes, businesses both large and small are required to obtain a Business License Tax Certificate to be in compliance with the City Municipal Code. If the consulting work is performed as an independent contractor and attributable to a location within the City limits, such as your residence, a tax liability exists.
Q: Q: I am not “doing business”. What does the City of Walnut Creek consider to be a business and why do they think I am operating one?
A: Most activities conducted within the City with continuing and regular activity are considered engaging in business and subject to business license tax. Specifically, City Municipal Code defines doing business as:
“ ‘Doing Business’ shall mean the conduct of any manufacturing, wholesale, retail or any other commercial enterprise and the conduct of, or engaging in the practice of, any occupation, trade, profession or semi- profession, and all and every kind of calling whether or not carried on for profit, except as specifically excepted by the provisions of this chapter, by any person having any proprietary interest therein as distinguished from the interest of an employee therein.” (Municipal Code § 8-6.02)
State law (Business and Professions § 16300) requires cities to use the way a taxpayer reported income to the IRS and FTB to determine whether the taxpayer performed services as an employee or as a separate business entity. A person who is an employee and whose compensation is reported on a Federal W-2 is not in business and is not subject to the business license tax.