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What should be done prior to applying for a Business Tax Certificate?

Getting started

We recommend that the applicant receive approval from the following regulatory agencies prior to applying for a Business License & Tax Certificate.  This list should be used as a guide and may not be a complete list of all agencies that should be contacted.  
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Community Development

Before signing a lease or other obligation, the City’s Community Development Department should be contacted to determine if your business activities are consistent with City regulations prior to establishing your business location.  Zoning, parking, and home occupations are some of the topics to be reviewed.

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Home Occupation Permit

Every business must register an address, not a post office box or private mail box.  A Home Occupation Permit is required when a person does business in a home, uses a home address as a business address on business license & tax certificates, or uses a home phone as a business phone. This includes businesses where work is actually occurring in the home, such as a home office, as well as home-based businesses doing work remotely, such as landscapers or housekeeping. Please note that property owner and homeowner association signatures of approval are required where applicable. Contact staff if you have any questions while filling out your application form, which can be submitted at the Community Development Department with your Business License & Tax Certificate Application.

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Business Name - Fictitious Business Name DBA
(DBA: Doing Business As)

If a name has been invented for your business, you must register with the San Luis Obispo County Clerk/Recorder. 1144 Monterey Street · San Luis Obispo · (805) 781-5088  

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Food or perishable products

Businesses engaged in the sale and/or preparation of food products require a certificate issued by the County Environmental Health Department · 2156 Sierra · San Luis Obispo · (805) 781-5544  

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Products sold   (Sales of tangible personal property)

A Seller’s Permit is required by the State of California Board of Equalization · (800) 432-2829 • 111 E. Navajo Dr. • Ste 100 • Salinas, CA 93906  









A permit is required by the City of San Luis Obispo Police Department for all of the above types of businesses
1042 Walnut Street · (805) 781-7317

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Rental Property - Residential & Commercial

All rental property owners are required to have a Business License & Tax Certificate. The business tax is based on the total receipts received from rent.
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Non-profit organizations 

Non-profit organizations that are exempt from taxes by the Internal Revenue Service or the California Franchise Tax Board are exempt from the City’s business tax requirements.  However, the City does require that the business submit a Business Tax application with proof of their Non-profit status.  Solicitors for non-profit Organizations are also required to obtain a Solicitor’s Permit from the City Police Department (see Solicitor’s Permit section).

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Employee Information

Employee Tax - Will you have employees?  If yes, as an employer, you must withhold State income tax and disability insurance.  You must register with the Employment Development Department · 4111 Broad Street , Suite A · San Luis Obispo, Ca · (805) 788-2697.  

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Federal and State tax information

Federal Tax - The Internal Revenue Service offers assistance to the new business owner and will mail a kit explaining the types of forms that may be used and when they are due.  You must register with the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-1040.  Forms can be acquired between 8:00 – 4:30 daily at 3220 S. Higuera Street, Suite 308 · San Luis Obispo , CA .  Their website is

California Tax - You must also register with the California Franchise Tax Board · 1515 Clay Street, Ste 305, Oakland, CA 94612-1445 (800) 338-0505. Their website is  

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Smoking Ordinance

Smoking is prohibited in all public places, including bars and restaurants.  This ordinance has wide community acceptance.

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Persons advertising with flyers, handouts, leaflets, or other notices need to obtain “The Leaflet” handout in the Community Development Department.  In general, you cannot place leaflets on public property, trees, or cars.  
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Worker's Compensation

You must obtain this insurance through your own insurance agent or the State Compensation Fund · P.O. Box 3171, Suison City, CA  94585 (888) 782-8338
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Bingo games

A permit is required for the above activity.  Contact the City of San Luis Obispo Finance Department at 990 Palm Street (805) 781-7134.

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