Business License & Tax

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, the City has moved to an essential services model until further notice. 

During this time, all City buildings, including the Finance Department are closed to the public. All City Departments will be working at reduced staffing levels and will be providing essential services only. If you need a current copy of your business license, please email your request to: bustax@cityofpetaluma.org  and kindly include the name of the business, business address and license or customer number.

The deadline to renew business licenses without penalty is being extended to December 31, 2020.

Fees associated with processing electronic payments will be waived through December 31, 2020.

Are you planning to open or expand a business in Petaluma? We have tools to help!

GETTING STARTED

Check out our Business Toolkit for general business tips as well as an overview of license and permit requirements. Then go to our Online Permit Tool – Open Counter – to scope your project and estimate costs.

Note: Petaluma has a local minimum wage that is higher than the State minimum wage. You must pay the Petaluma wage to employees for hours worked within the Petaluma City limits. Learn more here.

WHO NEEDS A BUSINESS LICENSE?

The City of Petaluma requires that any business that is either, located in, or doing business in Petaluma file a written application prior to commencing business and pay the minimum tax applicable to the business classification. A business license will be issued as evidence of payment of the business tax.

If you are located in Sonoma County and generating receipts (doing business) within the City of Petaluma, you are required to get a Business License and pay the Business Tax in Petaluma.

APPLYING FOR A LICENSE

APPROVING YOUR LICENSE

Getting a Business License is a 3-step process because the City has to check to see that your business location is suitable and that your business meets basic safety thresholds before registering your business in our system and collecting the required tax.

ZONING CLEARANCE

Before applying for the Business License, contact the Planning Department to confirm that City rules allow your business type in your planned location:

If you apply for a Business License without checking, you could pay a nonrefundable application fee unnecessarily if your business location does not comply with the zoning rules.

SAFETY CLEARANCE

To be sure that your business is safe, a City Building inspector and/or the Fire Marshal may need to visit your business before a business license is issued. City inspectors will look for minimum requirements that protect you and your employees and allow easy access to your business for emergency responders. For a complete list of the safety requirements, please review the Business License Inspection Check List.

RENEWING YOUR LICENSE

Renewals can be completed online here. The renewal is due by March 31st of each year.

WORKING FROM HOME

If you would like to work from home, and you live within the city limits of Petaluma, you will also need a Home Occupation Permit, which requires an extra fee and involves additional review to be sure your business is appropriate for a residential area. Questions about the Home Occupation permit? Contact Planning by phone (707-778-4301); email (petalumaplanning@cityofpetaluma.org; or in person at the Planning Counter, 11 English Street.

SHORT TERM VACATION RENTALS AND LODGING FACILITIES

If you are renting all or a portion of your dwelling unit for stays less than 30 days you will need a Short Term Vacation Rental Permit (which is renewed annually) from the Planning Division before your Business License can be issued. Download the Short Term Vacation Rental Permit checklist and application form. Short Term Vacation Rentals as well as other lodging facilities must collect and remit Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Lodging facilities that receive gross rent revenues of $350,000 or more in a fiscal year are also responsible for collecting Sonoma County Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA). TBIA Form. For more information about TBIA, visit the Sonoma County website at https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/ACTTC/Revenue-Accounting/Transient-Occupancy-Taxes/

MASSAGE BUSINESS

If you plan to open or continue a Massage Business, you need to register and provide evidence that you have met the City’s Massage Ordinance requirements. This involves submitting a form to the Police Department, paying a fee, and, in some cases, undergoing a background check. View the Massage Requirements here.

MOVING

If you are moving your business location, the Planning Department will have to check your new business location to be sure it is suitable for your business before the City will renew your Business Certificate. Contact Planning.

COUNTY LOCATION

While you have a Petaluma address, your business property may be located in Sonoma County. If it is in the County of Sonoma, and it does not generate gross receipts within the city limits of Petaluma, it does not require a Business License or a Business Tax payment. However, you may need a zoning / location clearance from the County. To find out more, contact the County of Sonoma Planning Department at 707-565-1900. If you are not sure, call or email the Petaluma Planning Department at 707-778-4301 or petalumaplanning@cityofpetaluma.org to find out.

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