New Year’s Resolution – Taking Control of Your Licensing Gaps

There are a lot of changes on the 2013 horizon from an economic and financial standpoint. With changes in Federal and State budgets and taxes, many cities are going to be forced to look at alternative funding options. One source of significant revenues for cities is their Business License roll. We anticipate that the cities will be more vigilant in pursuing companies to ensure compliance, and to ensure a steady stream of fees into their coffers.

This poses a challenge to companies that are “under-licensed.” No licensing professional wants to be holding the bag if a location gets padlocked for non-compliance. Therefore, now is the time to get any licensing gaps identified and get the proper licensing in place on a proactive basis.

The first order of business would be to prepare a list of all physical locations, and secondarily, a list of service areas, if applicable to your business. Once you have your list compiled, a match of licenses on file with the physical location list will start illuminating any gaps. If files are incomplete, a call to the authority to confirm the status of the license is in order. It is important that you have the license number, or FEIN, for the company, as well as officer information handy, so you can assure the official that you have the authority to inquire on behalf of your company.

Gathering forms and requirements for locations in which no license exists is next. Many cities now maintain robust websites, and some of those cities will allow you to apply online. The city website should be your first destination in researching requirements. If an online application process is not set up, you can usually download forms from the website for onward submission in hard copy. If no forms are available, a call to the City Clerk, or Department of Finance would be the last resort.

Evaluate which licenses are based on gross receipts vs. those that are based on the number of employees, other similar bases, or a flat fee. Prioritize the filing process accordingly- eliminating the licenses with the most risk first. As you move through your list and build your compliance levels, you will secure your company’s position and reduce exposure to the scrutiny of revenue hungry jurisdictions.