Who needs a business license in the City of Boulder and why?
The City of Boulder is considered a home-rule city, meaning it administers Boulder sales tax separately from the State of Colorado. Therefore, all businesses engaged in business in the city must have a City of Boulder business license.
The Boulder Revised Code defines engaged in business in the city as: performing or providing services, or selling, leasing, renting, delivering, or installing tangible personal property for storage, use, or consumption within the city.
Engaged in business in the city includes, without limitation, any one of the following activities by a person:
(a) Directly, indirectly, or by a subsidiary, maintaining a building, store, office, salesroom, warehouse, or other place of business within the city;
(b) Sending one or more employees, agents, or commissioned sales persons into the city to solicit business or to install, assemble, repair, service, or assist in the use of its products, or for demonstration, or for any other reason;
(c) Maintaining one or more employees, agents, or commissioned sales persons on duty at a location within the city;
(d) Owning, leasing, renting, or otherwise exercising control over real or personal property within the city; or
(e) Making more than one delivery into the city within a twelve-month period by any means other than a common carrier.’
The Boulder Revised Code defines Person as:
“A natural person, corporation, firm, partnership, association, organization and any other group acting as a unit, as well as individuals. It also includes an executor, administrator, trustee, receiver or other representative appointed according to law. Whenever the word person is used in any provision of this code prescribing a penalty or fine as to partnership or associations, the word includes the partners or members thereof, and as to corporations, includes the officers, agents or members thereof who are responsible for any violation of such section. Person includes the plural as well as the singular.” (1-2-1 – B.R.C., 1981)
The City of Boulder Revised Code requires that all types of businesses physically located in Boulder be licensed and approved by the City before operating, regardless of whether the business makes sales of taxable property or services. If a business has more than one location in the city, each location needs a separate license.
Please keep in mind that a City of Boulder Business License comes with a tax filing requirement. There is always a tax filing requirement even if tax due is $0. The City of Boulder presumes tax liability unless it receives a tax return indicating otherwise.
You can apply for a business license here:
Under the "Registration" header, click "Complete a Business License Application"
- Retail stores
- Restaurants & Bars
- Convenience stores & Gas stations
- Grocery stores
The City of Boulder has a Special Event Taxpayer license available, so that you can register for the specific event you’re attending and can file your tax return right after the event ends. The registration and return process is streamlined for businesses who are only briefly in the City. Businesses who are based in the City of Boulder or who regularly do business in the City of Boulder for reasons other than special events, such as soliciting future business, do not qualify for the Special Event Taxpayer License and instead need a regular business license.
Please note that even if no sales will be made, if you are a business or organization attending or sponsoring a special event, a license is still required.
You can register for a Special Event license here: https://boulderonlinetax.gentaxcpc.net/TAP//_/
Under the "Registration" header, click "Register for a Special Event"
We update the list of special events that are available based on information received from the event organizers.
- Vendors or sponsors at city-sponsored special events
- Vendors or sponsors at private special events
501(c)(3) registered non-profits who only plan to distribute literature and will not be making any sales or soliciting donations.
Even if the business is considered 501(c)(3) tax exempt, sales tax must be collected and remitted on any sales made.
Detailed information on many tax topics is available in the form of Tax Regulations. A full list and text of all the City Tax Regulations is available on the web site:
- Places of worship
- Educational organizations
- Animal welfare groups
- Scientific groups
- Public safety organizations
- Government organizations
The City of Boulder requires that all businesses conducting business in Boulder, taxable or not, have this license. This includes service-based businesses.
- Hair salons & aesthetic services
- Medical services & Personal care providers
- Law firms
- General Contractors
- Plumbers, Electricians, HVAC technicians, etc.
- Professional Coaching, Therapy, Counseling, etc.
- Events & entertainment
- Artist, Photographer, Creator, etc.
Please refer to the City Manager Rule which establishing minimum requirements for an Application of a Sales and Use Tax (Business License) or Exempt Institution License for additional information: 3-17-3.A(19) - Establishing minimum requirements for an application for a Sales and Use Tax License or an Exempt Institution License
The City of Boulder has not yet adopted economic nexus provisions requiring remote sellers to collect and remit tax on sales made to Boulder residents or businesses shipped by common carrier (e.g. DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS).
However, online retailers that have already begun collecting Boulder tax should contact the Sales Tax Division at email@example.com or 303-441-3051 to discuss options for remitting tax already collected from customers.
Apply for a Business License
Boulder Online Tax System
The Boulder Online Tax System is used for business license applications as well as for tax returns.
- Head to the Boulder Online Tax System
Complete a Business License Application
- Click “Complete a Business License Application” under “Registration” to begin.