Tax and Business licensing requirements for Special Event Vendors

The City of Boulder requires all organizations and businesses coming into Boulder for Special Events to obtain a City of Boulder business license and file a sales & use tax return. For organizations not based permanently in the City of Boulder we have a Special Event License available. This page serves as a guide to navigating the Special Event tax system and the City of Boulder requirements.

Basic Special Event Tax Information

Thank you for choosing to participate in a City of Boulder special event.  Special events in Boulder are essential to making our city the wonderful place that it is.  

Here is some information about tax in the City of Boulder which hopefully you will find useful for your upcoming event.

A License is required for attendance

All businesses and organizations attending special events in the City of Boulder are required to obtain a license prior to the event start. Even if no sales are made, a license is required. Special Event licenses are free for all out-of-city vendors. Please note that businesses based in Boulder are required to maintain a business license.

A Special Event License is Event-Specific

As a special event vendor, you must register for each event you plan to attend. A return is due for each event registered for, even if no sales are made.

Taxes Collected Are Held in Trust

The City of Boulder thanks you in advance for taking your role as a trustee of public funds seriously.

The City of Boulder Revised Code states: “All sums of money paid by a purchaser to a vendor or retailer as required by this chapter are public monies that are the property of the City. The vendor or retailer shall hold such monies in trust for the sole use and benefit of the City until the vendor or retailer pays them to the city manager.” (Boulder Revised Code 3-2-3)

Current Tax Rates

When is my tax return due?

Special Event tax returns are due up until 20 days after the event has ended. Late returns will be assessed penalty & interest. Tax returns are required even if no sales were made.

Please be thorough when remitting tax. Your accuracy is essential to showing the economic effect of sales and use tax on the City of Boulder.

How to Register for a Special Event License

Go to the Boulder Online Tax System

Click ‘Register for a Special Event’

Under ‘Registration’, click ‘Register for a Special Event’

Find your event

Use the drop-down icons to select the year and month of the event and then select the event.

If you do not see your event please contact sales tax staff to have it added. You can email

Add your business information

Enter your business information, including the name of the business, the type and subtype of business, and the ID that you would like to use.

The ID options are FEIN, ITIN, SSN, and Taxpayer ID -your City of Boulder 8-digit customer identifier if you have an existing business license. Make sure you correctly type in your ID type twice before proceeding to the next step.

If you have previously registered for a business license you will skip the address and licensing fee sections. Please be sure to use the same ID each time you register and file.

Verify your address

Add and verify the address of the business. Be sure to use your primary business address, and not the location of the event. First, type in the address, and then click the ‘Verify Address’ button.

You should get a pop-up screen. Find your verified address and select it.

Once the address is verified you can move on to the next step.

Add your contact information

Enter the contact information for your business.

Submit your registration

Special event licenses are free for out of city vendors. If you are based in City of Boulder limits, you will need a regular business license. See our business licensing page for more information.

Receive your license

Once your registration processes, you will get an email from with a copy of your Special Event License. Be sure to have a digital or printed copy of the license with you at the special event.

How to File a Special Event Return

Go to the Boulder Online Tax System

Find the event you attended

Returns will become available once the event ends. Use the drop-down icons to select the year and month of the event and then select the event.

If you do not see the event you attended please contact sales tax staff at

Enter your business information

You will need to type in the same identifying business information you used to register for the event.

Fill out the return

If you successfully pre-registered for the event you will now be taken directly to the return. You can see instructions for each tax type on the right hand side.

If you owe tax on the return, answer ‘No’ to the first question (is the total amount due for this return zero dollars?) and then type the amount of your gross sales from the event uner the sales tax rate in the box titled 'sales'.

Note- if you answer ‘No’ you will see an error message pop up. Once you fill out the return the error will disappear.

If you are a food or beverage vendor, please type the amount of your gross sales into the Food Service Tax line in addition to the Sales Tax line. The return will calculate the tax due based on the gross sales and food service tax sales that you input.

Note - The only allowed deductions are non-taxable services and sales. Business expenses are NOT deductible from sales & use tax.

Pay any tax due

After you click ‘Submit’ and then ‘Next’ you will be taken to the payment page where you will select the payment option you would like.

We recommend ACH Debit, where you can type in your banking information and instantly pay.

For check payment you will need to print the voucher in the final step to mail in with the check. For credit card payment you will be emailed a link to our 3rd party site where you can pay by card. Please note there is a processing fee for credit card payments.

Print a copy for your records

The final page will give you an option to print out a copy of your return, along with a payment voucher if you did not pay immediately by ACH Debit. Click on ‘Printable View’ so that you can download, save and print your copy of the return for your records.