Commissioner of Revenue

Major Business Tax Programs

 


Business Taxes

Attention New Businesses!

You must secure your Certificate of Occupancy (or Home Occupation Permit for home-based businesses) from the Zoning Office and register your business trade name with the office of the Commissioner of Revenue prior to securing your new business license. For additional information for new businesses in Arlington County, go to the New Business Information link of this website. 

BUSINESS LICENSE TAX

Chapter 11, Arlington County Code

The Commissioner of Revenue licenses and assesses a business privilege tax on every business in Arlington, including home-based businesses. Businesses must submit a business license application by March 1st of each year.  All businesses, except those applying for a business license for the first time, are strongly encouraged to FILE AND PAY ONLINE .

Business license taxes are usually based on a business's previous year's gross receipts.

  • Businesses having less than $10,000 in gross receipts owe no tax.
  • Businesses grossing between $10,001 and $50,000 pay a flat fee of $30.00.
  • Businesses grossing between $50,001 and $100,000 pay a flat fee of $50.00.
  • Businesses with gross receipts in excess of $100,000 will utilize a tax rate dependent on their business activities to determine the tax due.

Although there are other special situations where flat fees apply, such as for peddlers, itinerant vendors, and beer and wine wholesalers, the reporting basis for most taxpayers is the previous year's gross receipts for each business.

Beginning in 2009, businesses will be using a new form for the renewal of their Business Licenses. 

What is different for 2009?

•        Everyone will have a new account number.  During 2009, if you enter the old account number, the system will automatically convert it to the new one.

•        All activities conducted by a business at one location will receive one Business License Renewal Application that includes all of those activities.

•        Businesses having more than one (1) location, even though under the same ownership, will receive a separate Business License Renewal Application for each location.

•        As a result of the above changes, each Business License Renewal Application will be unique.  If you lose or do not receive your Application, you will not be able to download a new form from our website.  Instead, you will need to either file online or call our office at 703-228-3060 to request a new form.

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions you have about this tax.


BUSINESS TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX

Chapter 27, Arlington County Code

Arlington County levies a tax on all business tangible personal property located in Arlington on January 1 and used in a trade or business. This includes such items as furniture, fixtures, machinery, tools and programmable computer equipment. Businesses must itemize personal property and/or equipment, giving its date of acquisition and original purchase price.

A Business Tangible Tax Return must be filed by May 1 each year; your tax bill will be mailed to you in August and, beginning in 2010, payment is due by September 5.

For the first time, in tax year 2010, your Business Tangible Personal Property tax may be filed and paid ONLINE.

Business tangible personal property tax is not prorated should you cease business during the calendar year.

Property is assessed on a sliding percentage scale of its original capitalized cost, depending on its age. The current tax rate is $5.00 per $100 of assessed value.

The schedule for assessing business tangible personal property, other than programmable computer equipment, is 80% for the first year, decreasing at a rate of 10% a year until it reaches 20% in the seventh year. The rate remains at 20% for the remaining years the property is in service.

Programmable computer equipment is assessed on an accelerated schedule: 65% in the first year, 45% in the second year, 30% in the third year, and 10% in the fourth and subsequent years.

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions about this tax.

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BUSINESS TAX AUDITS

The Commissioner of Revenue Business Tax Division is also responsible for auditing and enforcement. The goal of these activities is to ensure that business taxes are being assessed in a fair and uniform manner.

The business tax staff "desk-audits" all business license tax applications for several factors, including verifying mathematical calculations, reviewing classifications and examining marked changes in gross receipts from one reporting year to another.

The business tax audit staff also conducts in-depth field audits of selected accounts to ensure that businesses are reporting their gross receipts properly and have the proper tax rate classification.

The business tax inspectors and audit staff review each business tangible personal property return, verifying calculations, comparing it to previous years' assessments and examining equipment lists. In-depth audits ensure uniform compliance among Arlington businesses, e.g., that all businesses report their owned equipment and leased equipment in the same manner.

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Custodial Taxes

SHORT-TERM RENTAL TAX

Chapter 64, Arlington County Code

Certain rental businesses, such as video rental stores, are eligible for special treatment that exempts their rental property from business tangible property taxation and assigns them a low business license tax rate. These businesses collect a 1% pass-through tax on all short-term rental receipts.

The Application for Certification as a Short-Term Rental Business (262.5K PDF format) is due annually on or before February 1.

The Short-Term Rental Tax reports are due quarterly on or before the 20th of April, July, October, and January. 

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions you have about this tax.

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TRANSIENT OCCUPANCY TAX (LODGING)

Chapter 40, Arlington County Code

A tax rate of 5% is levied on the total cost paid for each room or space rented in any hotel, motel or tourist home for less than 30 consecutive days with the same individual. This tax is collected by the hotel, motel or tourist home and remitted to the County on the 20th of each month and shall cover the taxes required to be collected by the seller during the previous month. 

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions you have about this tax.

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MEALS, FOOD AND BEVERAGE TAX

Chapter 65, Arlington County Code

A tax rate of 4% is charged by the seller for prepared foods sold in Arlington. This tax is levied on all food and beverages, including snack food and alcoholic beverages, whether consumed on or off the premises. There is a 2% food and beverage tax on meals prepared and sold by a restaurant or caterer specifically for use on commercial airlines.

New restaurants and other food establishments are required to file the Certificate of Registration Form with the Custodial Tax Division before the commencement of business. This tax is collected by the seller, and remitted to the County along with the Meals Tax Filing Form on the 20th of each month and shall cover the taxes required to be collected by the seller during the previous calendar month.

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions you have about this tax.

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CIGARETTE TAX

Chapter 39, Arlington County Code

Effective July 1, 2005, the tax rate is $0.30 on each pack of twenty (20) cigarettes and $0.375 for each package containing twenty-five (25) cigarettes. The cigarette tax is collected monthly from wholesalers who distribute cigarettes to retail businesses in Arlington. This tax is collected and remitted to the County along with a Cigarette Tax Report on the 20th of each month and shall cover the taxes required to be collected by the wholesaler during the previous month.

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions you have about this tax.

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BANK FRANCHISE TAX

Chapter 32, Arlington County Code

The bank franchise tax of $.80/$100.00 is levied on the January 1st net capital of certain banks and trust companies with principal offices and branches in the County, computed pursuant to Chapter 10.01 of Title 58 of the Code of Virginia. All banks whose principal offices are located within the County shall prepare and file with the Commissioner of Revenue a return as provided by Section 58-485.013 of the Code of Virginia in duplicate, which shall set forth the tax on net capital. Certain banks with branch offices located within the County are also required to pay and file a copy of the real estate deduction schedule, apportionment and other items required by Section 58-485.012 of the Code of Virginia.

This tax is paid to the Treasurer's Office on or before the first day of June of each year.

Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions you have about this tax.

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Last Modified: April 03, 2014
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611