New Businesses

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities as an Arlington business owner, email a Business Tax Specialist or call 703-228-3060. You can also read Opening a New Business in Arlington County  and Guidelines for Vendors in Arlington County.

Trade Name Registration, Dissolution & Search

You must register your trade name with the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office before you apply for a business license. For more information, email business@arlingtonva.us or call 703-228-3060.

Corporation or Limited Partnership Registration

All corporations and limited partnerships conducting business in Virginia must register with the State Corporation Commission. To register or to incorporate, contact:

State Corporation Commission
Box 1197
Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: 804-371-9967 (toll-free within Virginia only: 800-552-7945)

Certificate of Occupancy Application

All new businesses must file a request for a Certificate of Occupancy or a Home Occupation Permit with the Zoning Administrator of the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD). You must secure a Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupation Permit before you apply for a business license. For additional information, contact CPHD at 703-228-3883.

Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

Every employer must have a FEIN. To apply for the number, file Federal Form SS-4. For more information, contact:

Internal Revenue Service (walk-in service only)
5205 Leesburg Pike (Skyline Center), Suite 900
Falls Church, VA 22041
Local Phone: 703-756-6663
General Information: 800-829-1040
Publications and Forms: 800-829-3676

Arlington County Taxes

Business License Tax

The Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue assesses a business privilege tax (formally known as the Business, Professional, and Occupational License — or BPOL — tax) on business conducted in the County, including home-based business. You must pay all license taxes and fees at the time you begin your business — it’s unlawful to engage in any business without first obtaining a business license.

Business Tangible Personal Property Tax

Arlington County levies a tax on all tangible personal property located in Arlington on January 1 and used in a trade or business. This includes items such as furniture, equipment, machinery, tools and programmable computer equipment. Businesses must itemize personal property and/or equipment, giving its date of acquisition and original purchase price. Programmable computer equipment should be listed separately from other business property. You must file a return each year by May 1. The County doesn’t prorate business tangible personal property tax if you should cease business during the year.

For more information, go to the County’s Business Tangible Personal Property Tax webpage or contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060.

Other Business Taxes

Arlington County levies the following taxes on industry-specific activities:

  • The Short-Term Rental Tax applies to certain short term rental businesses. An application for Certification as a Short-Term Rental business must be submitted within the first 30 days of commencing business and needs to be renewed annually before February 1.
  • The Transient Occupancy Tax applies to tourist home, hotel, or motel room rentals.
  • The Meals, Food, and Beverage Tax is levied on the sale of prepared foods and beverages sold in connection with meals in Arlington.

For more information, contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060.

Vehicle Personal Property Tax

All vehicles residing in Arlington County must be registered with the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue. You have 60 days to register your vehicle if:

  • You are moving a vehicle into Arlington
  • You purchase a vehicle that will reside in Arlington
  • You transfer the title of a vehicle located in Arlington

Please Note – although you have 60 days to register your vehicle, the law requires the display of a County decal within 30 days, so it is wise to register your vehicle and obtain a decal within the first 30 days after moving into the County or obtaining a new vehicle in order to avoid the risk of being ticketed by the police.

See information on the potential for tax relief and the definition of vehicles used for business purposes.

The annual vehicle personal property tax is due on October 5. See details on the Vehicle Personal Property Taxes webpage, send an email to the Commissioner of Revenue’s Vehicle Personal Property Tax Division or call 703-228-3135.

Mobile Food Unit and Vendor Licenses

The Guidelines for Itinerant Vendors contains complete regulations pertaining to vending in Arlington County.

Recycling Requirements

The Arlington County Code requires business establishments to:

  • Establish and maintain a recycling program for mixed paper, cardboard, metal cans, aluminum cans, glass and metal items (Note: The recycling collection system must be separate from the regular trash/refuse collection.)
  • File a Commercial Recycling Plan form upon receiving a Certificate of Occupancy (within 30 days)
  • Submit an updated Commercial Recycling Plan form by February 1 of every third year
  • Disseminate educational materials to inform employees and business tenants about the program upon hire/occupancy and annually thereafter

For more information, go to the Department of Environmental Services or call 703-228-6570.

Emergency Business Contacts Form

The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) requests new business owners to complete an Emergency Business Contacts form so they can contact you in the event of a fire, burglary or other problem at your business location after normal business hours. For more information, contact the ACPD at 703-228-4040.

Workers’ Compensation

Any employer who has three or more regular employees must furnish workers’ compensation insurance coverage at no cost to the employees. The employer may either purchase the insurance through a private insurance company or apply to the Workers’ Compensation Commission to be a self-insurer. For more information specific to contractors and subcontractors, read the Workers’ Compensation Information for Contractors and Subcontractors. For additional general information contact:

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Prosperity Plaza
3020 Hamaker Court, Suite 100
Fairfax, VA 22031

Phone: 703-207-7152

Alcoholic Beverage License

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) exercises a monopoly over the importation and sale of all alcoholic beverages, except beer and wine. The Board also issues licenses for liquor manufacturing, beer and wine wholesaling, beer and wine sales and retail sales of spirits by the drink. For additional information contact:

Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
6308 Grovedale Drive
Alexandria, VA 22310-2551

Phone: 703-313-4432

Contractors

Contractors must register with both of the following:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation. If a business serves the public, it must be aware of the employment and public accommodation provisions of this law. For technical assistance and information, contact:

Department of Human Services Aging and Disability Services
2100 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22204
Phone: 703-228-1700
TTY: 703-228-1788

Virginia Taxes

Individual Income Tax

Your federal income tax return is the basis for your state income tax. The Commissioner of Revenue provides assistance to Arlington taxpayers in filing individual state income tax returns. For more information, contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s State Income Tax Division at 703-228-3055.

Partnership and Corporate Income Tax and Employees’ Income Tax Withholding

These are state taxes that all businesses should investigate. For more information, contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s State Income Tax Division at 703-228-3055.

Retail Sales Tax

Every individual, partnership, corporation, etc., who engages as a business retail dealer in Virginia must register with the State Department of Taxation. They must also collect the retail sales tax, file reports and pay taxes either monthly or quarterly, depending upon the volume of business. For more information, contact:

Virginia Department of Taxation
Attention: Customer Service
P.O. Box 1115
Richmond, VA 23218-1115
Phone: 804-367-8037

Virginia Unemployment Tax

The state of Virginia and the federal government levy taxes on employees’ wages. The employer pays the state tax into a state fund that pays unemployment benefits. For more information, contact:

Virginia Employment Commission
5520 Cherokee Avenue, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22312
Phone: 703-813-1300

Federal Taxes

Contact the IRS at the address and telephone number below to ask for a business tax kit.

Employee Taxes

Employers must withhold Social Security (FICA) taxes from employees’ wages and are responsible for the taxes, even if they haven’t been collected. Employers also must withhold income taxes at an employee’s request.

Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)

Employers must pay a FUTA tax on all employees and must file an annual FUTA tax return.

Individual, Partnership & Corporate Income Tax

Businesses must file individual (for sole proprietor, Schedule C), partnership, and corporate income taxes with the IRS. For more information, contact:

Internal Revenue Service (Walk-in service only)
5205 Leesburg Pike (Skyline Center), Suite 900
Falls Church, VA 22041
Local Phone: 703-756-6663
General Information: 800-829-1040
Publications and Forms: 800-829-3676

Arlington Economic Development (AED)

AED publishes a detailed guide to starting a new business in Arlington. It also holds seminars in both English and Spanish for those considering small-business ventures. To obtain the guide or for more information, contact:

Arlington Economic Development
Office of Business Investment
1100 N. Glebe Road, Suite 1500
Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 703-228-0808