In general; Business, professional, and occupational license tax; Multiple businesses
Local Power to Tax
February 20, 1997
Re: Request for an Advisory Opinion: Local License Tax
This will reply to your facsimile of January 9, 1997, requesting an advisory opinion, pursuant to Code of Virginia § 58.1-3701 on three BPOL questions.
The license tax is a local tax which is imposed and administered by local officials. The Code of Virginia limits the involvement of the Department of promulgating guidelines and issuing advisory opinions.
I will address the questions raised in your facsimile. The response is to provide guidance only and does not constitute a formal or binding ruling.
Your facsimile asks three questions: (1) Whether a locality can charge direct sellers a fee; (2) Who enforces BPOL compliance when a business gets licensed under a false corporate status; and (3) How many licenses does a business require if it trades as many different entities in a single location (e.g. a advertising agency which also does snow removal).
Code of Virginia § 58.1-3703 A states that a locality may charge a fee for issuing a business license upon any person engaged in business within the locality. Code of Virginia § 58.1-3719.1 A provides that direct sellers are subject to a licensure provided their sales exceed $4,000 per year. The situs for the local taxation of a direct seller is the locality of his place of abode. Therefore, a governing body may charge, in addition to the authorized tax on retail or wholesale sales, a fee on direct sellers residing in their locality if their total sales exceed $4,000 per year.
BPOL compliance lies with the local governing officers. Commissioners of the revenue may impose the statutory penalties and interest on individuals for noncompliance. In addition, individuals who refuse to comply with the localities are subject to criminal sanctions. Code of Virginia § 58.1-11 and Code of Virginia § 58.1-3111. With respect to BPOL tax, the Tax Commissioner's enforcement capabilities are limited to the authority granted by the Code of Virginia. Pursuant to Code of Virginia §§ 58.1-3701 and 3703., the Tax Commissioner has the authority to issue advisory written opinions and to issue rulings on taxpayer appeals from local assessors.
Code of Virginia § 58.1-3703.1 A 1 provides that a separate license shall be required for each definite place of business and for each business. § 3.5 of the 1997 Guidelines states that:
- Multiple businesses conducted by a person at a single location shall be required to obtain a separate license for each business... It is within the localities' discretion whether or not to assess multiple fees for the issuance of multiple licenses where one entity exercises several licensable privileges at one location, however, every license issued carries with it a separate threshold.
Therefore, one corporation trading as many entities at a single location will be required to get licenses for each entity, provided that each entity is engaged in a business subject to licensure. A locality may choose to issue one fee for multiple licenses. Each license is subject to a separate threshold. For example, an advertising agency which also did snow removal would be subject to one license for the advertising agency and one for snow removal, provided that each of these activities is a licensable privilege under the local ordinance.
I have enclosed copies of Code of Virginia §§ 58.1-11, 3701, 3703, 3703.1, 3111, 3719.1 and § 3.5 of the 1997 Guidelines for your further reference. I hope that the above information will be beneficial to you. If you have any further questions regarding this advisory opinion, you may contact ********** at**********.
Danny M. Payne