While many of our colleagues are planning year-end getaways and winding down their annual operations, licensing and compliance professionals are dug in for one of our busiest cycles- that of annual license renewals.
Our experience at Business Licenses, LLC shows that 25% of jurisdictions imposing some type of annual business license, have the license expiration cycle set for December 31st . This makes for a large spike in license compliance volume and requires good planning on the part of license compliance managers. We are not only facing resource strain in our departments, but we also must contend with the fact that our colleagues in procurement and accounting are not available – either tied up with their own year-end processes or using up their last vacation days for the year. The same is true for the government offices that are also operating with skeleton crews. These challenges can make for the perfect storm and put us at risk for missing critical license renewals.
Good planning is the key to a successful license filing season, and in truth, this needs to start well in advance of December. But, if you are caught in the trenches right now, here are some ways you can take control of last minute license filings and deliver the most value possible to your company:
-If you are missing a Renewal Notice or Invoice, contact the Authority, or check their website, to see whether they have an online filing option. Many cities have gone “paperless” this past year, and you may be able to take care of your license filing on the web. This saves on postage charges as well as delivery confirmation, so it is a good idea to survey all of your jurisdictions throughout the year to identify new online filing options.
-If there is no online option, make a copy of last year’s renewal and add a cover letter explaining that you did not receive your expected invoice, but you are sending a copy of last year’s along with the same fee, or the appropriate fee calculated using the current year’s numbers.
-Do a risk evaluation and prioritize high risk licenses for extra focus. Review the list of open renewals and target those licenses that, if not renewed, can cause a shutdown to your location, such as Food/Heath Permits, Contractor Licenses, and Liquor Licenses. Next, look at gross receipts licenses, whose penalties may mount quickly. Last, tackle licenses with flat fees, where there is a low risk of costly penalties.
Once you have the big picture under control, make sure to tie up any loose ends right after the New Year. Until then, enjoy the holidays and plan to return refreshed and ready to take on next year’s license filings.