If you need further business license assistance, you are welcome to contact our staff at the Finance Department located on the first floor of City Hall at 735 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
Yes, anyone conducting business within the City of Santa Barbara limits must maintain a business license tax certificate; as outline in the city Municipal code.
The annual business license tax for an outcall massage technician is $100.00. The annual business license tax for a massage establishment is based on the number of employees. (Refer to Section C of the Business License Tax Rate Schedule)
If you are an employee of a massage establishment, and payroll taxes are deducted from your paycheck, a letter from the owner of the massage establishment can be submitted stating as such, and you would be exempt from the annual business license tax requirement. In this circumstance, you are not allowed to provide “outcall” massage services.
A Business License Tax is an annual tax you pay each fiscal year for doing business within the incorporated area of the City of Santa Barbara (City). The City's municipal code requires that you obtain a license PRIOR to conducting any business activity within the City - even if your business is located outside the city limits or you have a business license from another city. The Business License Tax Certificate, is evidence only that your tax has been paid. Other permits may be required to open your business. A separate tax certificate is required for each type of business at the same location or for each branch location. Receipt of a Business License does not constitute an endorsement of the business, nor does it grant permission to conduct business at any place prohibited by the City's Zoning Ordinances or any other Federal, State, or Local regulation.
Redevelopment is a process created to assist local governments in eliminating physical and economic blight from a designated Redevelopment Project Area and to achieve desired development, reconstruction and rehabilitation, including but not limited to: residential, commercial, industrial, and public infrastructure. The goal of Redevelopment is to create a safe, economically viable and balanced project area that provides all of the socially desirable attributes communities want: sound public and private improvements, good jobs, safe places, strong commerce, recreational opportunities, decent and affordable housing, and increasing property values.
A Redevelopment Agency is able to use special legal and financial mechanisms to achieve these goals. This authority is granted to the Agency through the state of California's Health and Safety Code (Section 33000-et.seq.), also known as the California Community Redevelopment Law. The law requires that a Redevelopment Project Area must exhibit conditions of both physical and economic blight before any redevelopment activity can occur. Symptoms of economic blight include inability to develop vacant lots, high vacancy rates in existing commercial space, and high turnover in commercial space. Physical blight may include graffiti, deterioration of buildings and property, irregularly shaped lots, and inadequate infrastructure to support development. The surveys and analyses of a proposed redevelopment project area must address whether or not these types of blighting conditions are present before a City Council can pass legislation permitting the use of redevelopment authority in that given area.
The hotel operator shall collect the tax from the guest at the time the rent is collected. If rent is paid in installments, a proportionate share of the taxes should also be collected.
Any person who stays in your hotel for a period of 30 consecutive calendar days is considered a Transient Guest and is subject to paying TOTs. Any person occupying space in a hotel shall be considered as a transient guest until the period of 31 days, an agreement in writing between the operator and the occupant should be provided reflecting intent to occupy for 31 consecutive days.
The Finance Department is charged with enforcing the City's license requirement. As part of this, the Licensing Staff identify businesses that may not be in compliance with this requirement, and send notices to inform them of the requirement. They use a variety of filings, such as Seller's Permits, DBA’s, periodicals, professional licensing and tax filings with higher authorities to identify these businesses.
Yes. Prior to sending out notices, information records from the various agencies that provide data to the City are compared against the City's business license database. If no match is identified, the License Staff send out notices to notify the potential business that a license is required. If it turns out the potential business already has a license, or it is determined none is required, the record is closed.
All taxes collected by the hotel operator must be held in a trust account. This account is used to separately identify money which belongs to the City but which has been temporarily entrusted with the operator until payment is forwarded to the tax collector.
Yes, if you are not an employee, you are considered an Independent Contractor/ self employed. Providing services to, or on behalf of a business, may be of an employee/employer or an independent contractor relationship depending on the nature of work and span of control involved. Determining the relationship between you and your employer (or employee) can sometimes be confusing. However, put simply, if you are not paid as an employee, you are considered an Independent Contractor and are required to have a business license.
Fortunately, the State Department of Employment Development (EDD) has a very helpful booklet highlighting specific guidelines to follow in determining the correct relationship between you and your employer or employee.
Contact EDD if you are unsure of the relationship. Once a determination has been made that your relationship is not that of an employee/employer, then by default, it is that of an independent contractor subject to a business license.
Yes. Any entity that holds itself out as a trade or a business in the City needs to register for and pay business tax. City code does not permit us to consider the reason for the formation of a business entity in applying the business tax requirement. Additionally, state law directs all cities to use the manner in which a taxpayer reported income to determine whether that taxpayer acted as a business.
Yes. If your consultancy is based from a location in the City, you need a business license for that location. The location of and the number of clients does not have any bearing on whether a license is required since the requirement applies to your business.
Yes. The reason for the formation of a legal business entity cannot play a role in determining whether it requires a business license. Many estate planning web sites that advocate the use of legal entities state clearly that there is nothing that distinguishes a legal entity set up for estate planning from one that is set up to operate a business interest. In fact, due to IRS regulations, these sites state there must be a clear business purpose for these entities. In other words, there is nothing that legally distinguishes a family limited partnership (FLP) from any other type of partnership. As a result, the City must treat these estate planning entities in the same manner as any other type of legal business entity.
The City of Santa Barbara business license is a tax on the privilege of conducting business in City of Santa Barbara and is solely to raise revenue for municipal purposes (e.g. police & fire). The payment for a business "license" simply reflects a tax payment in much the same way as the "license" plate on a car represents a tax payment.
In short, yes. City of Santa Barbara business tax is not contingent upon revenue, nor does the presence of employees influence the requirement. In fact, the city law does not distinguish between "active" and "passive" entities in the application of business tax; if the legal entity is registered active with other agencies and it is required to complete a return to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board, then it is also required to have a City of Santa Barbara business license tax certificate.
If you own more than one business, a separate business license tax certificate is needed for each one. Call Finance Department staff for details.
Every city and county in California is authorized by the California Community Redevelopment Law to establish a Redevelopment Agency to pursue the elimination of blight in designated Redevelopment Project Areas.
In Santa Barbara, as in most cities, the City Councilmembers are also the governing board for the Redevelopment Agency; however, the Council and the Agency are two separate, distinct legal entities. The Redevelopment Agency reimburses the City for staff services to carry out the day-to-day operations in pursuit of the Redevelopment Plan for the Redevelopment Project Area.
Any person who conducts business in or is based from the City must obtain a business license tax certificate. Conducting business in the City without a license can result in penalties, notice of violations, citations, and finally, court action.
If you are providing massage services, either in an establishment or on an outcall basis, you must possess a City of Santa Barbara Massage Technician Permit.
What documents do are required to apply for a Massage Technician Permit? (*this is in-lieu of State Certification)
Written statements of at least five (5) bona fide residents of the County of Santa Barbara that the applicant is of good moral character. (must include phone/address of the reference).
Written proof that the applicant is over the age of 18 years (Driver’s License)
Two (2) passport photographs (1 ½ inches by 2 inches).
Massage business tax history of applicant, listing suspension or revoked licenses.
Medical certificate (TB Test Only) issued within the last 30 days.
A copy of diploma or certificate with at least 200 hours from a state recognized school.
Completed Massage Technician Permit application packet.
Taxes, of course, keep the City running by providing essential public safety, repair and maintenance to roads and public facilities, and general improvements to the community. The taxes collected from our transient guests are deposited, along with other City revenue, in the City's general fund for general governmental purposes, including community improvements as determined by the City Council from time to time. These improvements greatly contribute to our City's desirability and encourage future tourism in our community.
Change of ownership will require a new Business License Tax Certificate. Proof of ownership, escrow papers etc will need to accompany the new application. Open date is the date the ownership took affect.
The City is not able to reprint prior business license certificates. If you wish to document proof of business history, you may request this by mail or the owner may come in person to our office. Allow 5 business days for processing.
I already have a Business License and want to open an additional business location do I need to apply for another Business License?
Yes, for each location, door entrance, and separate cash register, you are required to have a separate Business License Tax Certificate.
All taxable rent charged our guests for lodging purposes is taxed according to the rate established in the Code. Currently, our tax rate is twelve percent (12%) of the taxable rent charged. 10% is unrestricted revenue and 2% is restricted to Creeks Restoration and Water Quality Improvement (Measure B).
We suggest responding to the notice via US mail. Please list the account number that appears on your Business License tax certificate. If you are conducting business under another name, different activity or additional locations, you will need to submit a separate Business License Tax Application for each. If you have any questions, you may contact us directly at (805) 564-5346.
Important Note: If the notice was mailed to a separate legal entity from the one that already has a business tax certificate, it may need to pay its own business tax. A business tax certificate is unique to legal entity, which is defined by the Employer ID Number (EIN).
If you are no longer conducting business, please send notice to: City of Santa Barbara Business Licensing PO Box 1990 Santa Barbara, CA 93102, provide the business name, address, certificate number and the date you stopped conducting business in the City. Please provide contact information, should we have any questions.
This information can be faxed to Business License: (805) 897-1978, documentation is required.
Attention: we do not automatically cancel your license if we don’t hear from you. We assume your payment is late and continue to send Billing Notices. Eventually your business name is placed on our delinquent list. So, please let us know, in writing, if you want your license canceled.
Written notification should be mailed to:
City of Santa Barbara - Business Licensing
PO BOX 1990
Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Be sure to provide contact information in case staff has questions. If you would like to make changes in person come to the Finance Dept counter located at 735 Anacapa Street. Picture ID is required when making changes in person.
Yes, be sure to contact Community Development to get restriction information. Code reinforcement is upheld by Law Enforcement.
Yes, property owners receiving rent are required to obtain a business license tax certificate. An owner with 3 or more residential units and/or owns commercial property need to file for a business license based on rents received.
Business license lookup link or you may contact our staff at (805) 564-5346.
The Municipal Code does not allow street vending within the City of Santa Barbara.
Yes. Once the application packet and the $52.00 processing fee are received in the Business License Tax Office, you will be required to visit the Santa Barbara Police Department to provide fingerprints for a statewide records check. Call (805) 897-2300 to set up your Live Scan appointment.
Yes. Municipal Code says that if you represent business conduct at an address in the City, that is prima facie evidence of business conduct, therefore requiring a business license. The City requires businesses who use a Post Office box or a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) using a City of Santa Barbara address to obtain business licenses.
Any Business conducted in City of Santa Barbara is required to have a Business License. Please complete the application and attach a copy of your Federal approval for Non-Profit status 501-C-3 form to be exempt from the business license tax.
You will need a Santa Barbara County business license to conduct business in any unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County. Check with the County’s Tax Collector’s Office (805) 568-2933.
Should the business cease to operate for any reason, notify the City Finance Department. You must then file a final return and pay any taxes due immediately.
Information regarding PBIA is located in our Business License Tax Application.
A Redevelopment Project Area is a distinctly identified area of a city or a county that evidences physical or economic blight that cannot be corrected by private forces acting alone. Redevelopment Project Areas are established by ordinance of the City Council after an extensive and deliberative process that includes blight surveys, economic analysis, environmental review, citizen participation, and the adoption of a Redevelopment Plan.
Santa Barbara has one Redevelopment Project Area, the Central City Redevelopment Project Area, which encompasses most of the Downtown commercial core and the Waterfront, including Stearns Wharf and the Harbor.
Information regarding Downtown Improvement District is located in our Business License Tax Application.
To avoid the imposition of accrued penalties, you must remit the business tax application and payment on or before the due date on your notice. This date is always fourteen (14) days after the date of the notice. The delinquency date is the first day the penalty will be applied.
Unfortunately, no. Each city has its own business license tax requirements and you must have a business license from the jurisdiction business is being conducted in.
If the tax return and payment is received by the City post-marked after the due date, penalty and interest charges shall be assessed beginning on the first day the tax becomes delinquent.
The penalty is equal to ten percent of the amount of the tax, plus the tax itself.
Any amount identified as "rent" on a guest's receipt is subject to TOT with no later deduction or reclassification of non-rent items permitted whatsoever. The following is a list of common guest charges to use as a guide to help determine what is considered taxable rent:
|Subject to TOT||Not Subject to TOT|
A Redevelopment Plan is a formally adopted document that identifies the boundaries of the Redevelopment Project Area, the existence of blight, the programs and projects that will be pursued to eliminate that blight and provide affordable housing, the time limits for redevelopment activities in the Redevelopment Project Area, and the specific powers that will be exercised by the Redevelopment Agency.
Santa Barbara's Central City Redevelopment Project Plan was adopted in 1972 and has been amended four times. It establishes that activities in the Project Area are to be completed in the year 2015.
Once the application has been approve by the Police Department, the Finance Department will contact the owner/technician to pick up their identification card.
The approval process takes 6-8 weeks from the time of fingerprinting. Several weeks are required by the State Department of Justice to conduct their review of the submitted information and provide direction to the local law enforcement agency.
When picking up the Massage Technician ID card, you will be required to pay $100.00 for your Business License Tax Certificate.
No penalty will be added if a return is:
1.Received in the Finance Office on or before the due date, by the end of business day; or
2.Postmarked by U.S. Post Office cancellation mark by midnight on the due date (metered post marks are not acceptable).
No, any person who conducts business in the City must obtain a City of Santa Barbara business license tax certificate. The County of Santa Barbara is responsible for jurisdictions not Incorporated, such as Isla Vista, Montecito, Santa Ynez and Summerland.
A Redevelopment Agency is empowered by the California Community Redevelopment Law to include in its Redevelopment Plan such powers as: the right to acquire and dispose of property to facilitate projects that assist in the elimination of blight, including the use of eminent domain to acquire private property in certain circumstances; the right to make loans or grants to effectuate redevelopment; the right to construct infrastructure; the right to issue long-term debt; and the right to collect Tax Increment to service debt.
The Central City Redevelopment Project Plan contains all of the powers identified above.
Any establishment, in a fixed place of business, engaging in or carrying on, or permitting any combination of massage and health treatment of massage and bathhouse, showers, hot tubs, saunas is required to obtain a massage establishment permit. Remit the Massage Establishment Application form with all its approvals to the Finance Department.
Those who are exempt from paying TOT are as follows:
*Review claim form for refund information required
1.Any federal officer or employee on official business;
2.Any officer or employee of a foreign government who is exempt by a provision of the federal law or international treaty;
3.Any Red Cross, Amtrak, US Postal Service, Federal Credit Union and Insurance Company employee serving on official government business (i.e. earthquake emergency response, etc.)
Send notification to the Business License Department located at:
735 Anacapa St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93102.
The information provided here is intended to assist with the understanding of the permit and license requirements and is not intended to supersede any provisions in the Santa Barbara Municipal Code. Should any information conflict with the provisions of the Ordinance, the Ordinance shall prevail.
The California Community Redevelopment Law provides redevelopment agencies with a method of obtaining funds called Tax Increment Financing.
Here's how it works:
By City Code, the tax imposed through the taxing power of the City is solely for the purpose of obtaining general revenue. Business taxes help pay for city services like roads, fire and police, and other community services.
Other taxing agencies lose part of the new property taxes generated in Redevelopment Project Areas, but they continue receiving their share of the base tax role. However, in blighted areas, the property values would not increase without redevelopment activities. Other taxing agencies benefit from increases in other, non-property tax revenues and revenues generated outside the project area as a direct result of Redevelopment activities, such as sales taxes, hotel room taxes, higher income taxes derived from job generation, and property taxes. Most school districts are fully compensated by the State for the loss of any property tax revenue due to Tax Increment.
Your license is good from the "Open Date" to the following year; for a twelve (12) month period.
Redevelopment is one of the most effective ways to breathe new life into deteriorated areas plagued by social, physical, environmental or economic conditions, which act as a barrier to new investment by private enterprise. Through Redevelopment, a project area will receive focused attention and financial investment to reverse deteriorating trends, create jobs, revitalize the business climate, rehabilitate and add to the housing stock, raise property values, and gain active participation and investment by citizens which would not otherwise occur.
That depends on the type of business and its location. View the description section of the application for your type of business, then see the corresponding business tax rates on the following page for payment amount. Submit this amount with your application. Contact Finance staff for further assistance.
A new business is taxed using "estimated" gross receipts amount from the start of business to the next 12 months. The following license year renewal cost will be based the gross receipts as reported to the I.R.S. for Federal Income Tax purposes.
Gross receipts are what you receive such as cash, credit, and/or property taken in lieu of cash payments for the goods or services that you sell.
In addition to eliminating blight, a Redevelopment Agency is responsible for preserving or improving the supply of affordable housing available to residents of the Project Area. Without a supply of decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing in a Project Area, or serving the needs of a Project Area, redevelopment will not be successful. Redevelopment Agencies are required to set-aside 20% of their annual Tax Increment revenues for the purpose of increasing, improving, or preserving the community's supply of low income housing (for households earning up to 80% of Median Income) and moderate income housing (for households earning between 80% and 120% of Median Income). Redevelopment Agencies must spend these funds for affordable housing, and they may be spent on such activities as land or building acquisition, new construction, rehabilitation, onsite or offsite improvements, and grants or loans to providers or purchasers of affordable housing.
The Redevelopment Agency will set aside approximately $2.6 million for affordable housing in FY 2003-2004. Please take a look at our Affordable Housing Programs to see the extensive affordable housing activities accomplished and planned by the Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency. The Agency has been in the vanguard among California Redevelopment Agencies in the provision of affordable housing.
Yes. However, it is your responsibility to obtain a current tax certificate whether or not a renewal notice is received. Penalties are assessed for delinquent accounts, regardless of whether you receive a renewal notice or not. If you do NOT receive a notice by the expiration date of your Business License Tax Certificate, please be sure to contact the Finance Department immediately.
Yes. If your business name is anything other than your surname or has more than one owner. Contact the County of Santa Barbara Hall of Records.
If selling or preparing food, a Health Permit is also required from the County Environmental Health Department, in addition to the business license tax certificate. **All food preparation vendors are required to have a County of Santa Barbara Health Permit onsite. For more information call (805) 681-4900.
Every business must meet zoning and building requirements to ensure that its business category and site are compatible BEFORE SIGNING any leases contact our Zoning Department for further information. (Located at 630 Garden St.)
Check with the City’s Community Development to determine what building modifications, if any, may be necessary for your business type. Usually, a fire inspector will visit your business in order to verify that your building or tenant area meets Fire and Building Code requirements and will issue your business location.
Please check with the Community Development Department before using or installing ANY type of sign: wall, window, banners, even balloons. Temporary signs require review and approval prior to issuance of permits and installation.
Yes. Businesses operated from the home also require payment of a business license tax. The City’s Zoning Ordinance regulates the type of business operations that may be done in the home.
No. The City business "license" and your State license serve entirely different purposes. The regulatory licensing of certain trades rests entirely with the State of California. The City of Santa Barbara does not regulate, in any way, these industries. If your relationship to you employer is that of an "independent contractor" or you are self-employed and working in the City, you need to pay the City business tax.