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Business Privilege License

What Is A Business Privilege License?
A business privilege license allows officials to know who is conducting business in the city, as well as the location and type of business. This assists City officials to make sure that a business is located in an area that is properly zoned, as well as ensuring that the business has adequate access to basic City services. Business owners doing business within the limits of the City of Durham are subject to the business privilege license requirements set forth in the City's Code of Ordinances. The North Carolina General Assembly through schedule B of the Revenue Act and the City of Durham through its City Code have authorized this requirement. For assistance in determining your business license requirements, e-mail or call (919) 560-4700.

Licensing Period
A Durham business privilege license must be purchased annually and is issued for a one year period that begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year. Each new business should purchase a license and have it in hand on the first day that they do business. A business privilege license must be renewed no later than July 1 of each year.

 
Business Privilege License Fees
There are two methods of determining a business privilege license tax liability:

•   Gross Annual Sales and Flat Fee
Business privilege license tax for businesses classified as retail, wholesale, manufacturing, or service businesses are computed on the basis of gross annual sales. For examples of how to compute fees based on gross annual sales, go to the Fee Calculation examples section of this site.

•   Flat Fee
Other types of businesses are taxed according to a flat fee rate. For a partial listing of flat fee rates go to the Business Privilege License Codes section of this site. 
 
Exemptions
There are some businesses that do not require a business privilege license. For a listing of businesses that do not require a business privilege license go to the exemptions section.
 
Business Privilege License Penalties
It is the responsibility of each individual to determine whether the business he or she conducts is taxed under the City ordinance, and if so, whether that tax has been paid for the current year. No person or business entity conducting business within the city limits of the City of Durham, or within a one mile radius of the city limits of the City of Durham; for which a business license is required, shall do so without first obtaining a business privilege license and paying the appropriate fee(s). Any business conducting business activity within the city limits of Durham without a license, shall be liable for back (unpaid) business license taxes and shall be subject to a penalty of 5 percent of the annual license tax for each month that the business operates without a license, up to a maximum of 25 percent per annum.
 
How to Apply for a Business Privilege License
To apply for a business tax receipt, you must first fill out a business tax receipt application form. The form is available to download from this website. To download the form, go to the forms section of this site. You may also obtain application forms by visiting the Business Tax Unit, located on the first floor of City Hall. Applications may be submitted at the Business Tax Unit between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Assuming all the application information is properly filled out, a business privilege license can be processed within the same day.
 
Applications submitted by mail can usually be processed within one week. If you have additional questions, email or call (919) 560-4700.
 
City of Durham
Department of Finance
Billing and Collections Division
Business Privilege License
101 City Hall Plaza
Durham, NC 27701

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