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Business License


A business license is required to operate a business within the City of Tuscaloosa or its Police Jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the Police Jurisdiction is the three mile area that extends past the City Limits of Tuscaloosa but not into the jurisdiction of another city.

Sec. 7-16. - Business license required.

(a)   Levy of business license. There is hereby levied on each of the following persons who are within the city's business license jurisdiction, or who engage in activity subject to the city's business license jurisdiction, a business license to be paid in the amount as provided elsewhere in this chapter:

(1)  Each person engaging in any activity listed or described in the business license schedule of section 7-18; and/or  

(2)  Each person engaged in any exhibition, trade, business, vocation, occupation, or profession; and/or  

(3)  Each person engaged in any activity for which chapter 51 of title 11 of the Code of Alabama or any other provision of the Code of Alabama, enables the city to levy a business license.

The first step in obtaining a Business License is determining where your physical location will be. If this location is inside the city limits or the police jurisdiction, then you will be required to get your business location approved through a Code Compliance. Once this Code Compliance is completed, and then a business license will be issued based on your estimated gross receipts.

Doing Business Without a License

Sec. 7-16. - Business license required.

Criminal penalties for failure to obtain license. It shall be unlawful for any person described in subsection (a) to engage in the activity for which a business license is levied without first having procured a business license therefor. In addition to any applicable civil penalties, violations of this section shall be punishable by a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each offense, and if the violation is willful, by imprisonment, not to exceed six (6) months for each offense, or both such fine and imprisonment, all at the discretion of the court trying the same. Each day during which such violation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.

Cost of Initial Business License

The type of business license issued will be based on the type of business you will be operating. We can determine what type of license is necessary by asking you questions concerning your business. In some cases, more than one type of license may be required.

The cost of the initial business license is based on your estimated gross receipts from the time you open until December 31st plus the license Issuance fee.

Sec. 7-25. - Issuance of business license generally; issuance fee. 

(b) Issuance fee. In addition to the amount of each license fee due the city, a fee of five dollars ($5.00) for issuing or renewing a license shall be charged and paid as a part of each license issued. Such issuance fee shall be paid at the time of issuing or renewing the license and shall not be prorated.

Gross Receipts

Sec. 7-1. - Definitions, rules of construction, and automatic conformity to law.

Gross receipts. Any and all receipts of a business from whatever source derived, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable laws and constitutional provisions, to be used in calculating the amount due for a business license. Provided, however, that gross receipts shall not include any of the following taxes collected by the business on behalf of any taxing jurisdiction or the federal government: (1) All taxes which are imposed on the ultimate consumer, collected by the taxpayer and remitted by or on behalf of the taxpayer to the taxing authority, whether state, local or federal, including utility gross receipts taxes levied pursuant to Code of Ala. 1975, § 40-21-80 et seq.; (2) License taxes levied pursuant to Code of Ala. 1975, § 40-21-50 et seq.; or (3) Reimbursements to professional employer organizations of federal, state or local payroll taxes or unemployment insurance contributions; but no other deductions or exclusions from gross receipts shall be allowed except as expressly provided by state law or this chapter. For a utility or other entity described in Code of Ala. 1975, § 11-51-129, gross receipts shall be limited to the gross receipts derived from the retail furnishing of utility services within a municipality during the preceding year that are taxed under Code of Ala. 1975, § 40-21-80 et seq., except that nothing herein shall affect any existing contract or agreement between the city and a utility or other entity. Gross receipts shall not include dividends or other distributions received by a corporation, or proceeds from borrowings, the sale of a capital asset, the repayment of the principal portion of a loan, the issuance of stock or other equity investments, or capital contributions, or the undistributed earnings of subsidiary entities. Gross receipts shall not be subject to any deductions, exclusions, exemptions, or reductions unless expressly provided herein in this chapter or by state law.

Code Compliance

Sec. 7-24. - Code compliance procedure.

(a) Generally. Upon submission of an application for a business license, the revenue department is authorized to determine whether the operation of the business would conflict with the public safety, health, or welfare, or with any provision of law including but not limited to zoning laws, building and safety codes, fire codes, health codes, and any other laws or codes which would potentially affect public safety, health and welfare prior to the issuance of a business license.

(b) Code compliance procedure. The revenue department may promulgate rules or regulations to require that prior to the issuance of a business license, approvals must be obtained from other departments of the city and the health department for compliance with any law, code, ordinance, rule, or regulation over which such other department has administrative or enforcement responsibilities. This procedure may include a requirement to obtain approval from the Tuscaloosa Police Department as to whether the operation of the business would potentially negatively impact public health, safety, and welfare; and whether any measures must be taken by the taxpayer to provide for security, traffic control, crowd control, or other public safety issues. The other departments that participate in the code compliance procedure are authorized to utilize their discretion in giving approval with or without conditions, or in denying approval. Any such city department or agency may withhold their consent or approval until the business conforms to its respective ordinances or regulations. Upon receipt of the proper written approvals of all applicable departments, the revenue department is authorized to issue a code compliance certificate.

Code Compliance Certificate

To help you obtain this Code Compliance Certificate, the departments and the names of the person(s) you are required to contact are listed below. This certificate must be completed before a license can be issued.

Planning & Development Services3RD FLOOR – ANNEX205-248-5110
Fire Department1ST  FLOOR- ANNEX205-248-5420
Police Department3801 MILL CREEK AVE205-349-2121
Health Department2350 HARGROVE ROAD E205-554-4540
Waste Water Treatment3900 KAULOOSA AVE205-248-5900

Denial of Code Compliance

Sec. 7-24. - Code compliance procedure.

(c) Denial of approval. If any department denies approval, the reason for the denial shall be given in writing to both the taxpayer and the revenue department. The revenue department shall not issue a business license when another department has denied approval; and if such other department grants approval with conditions, the business license shall be issued subject to such conditions, which shall become part of the business license. The revenue department, by rule or regulation, may make the code compliance procedure apply to the renewal of a business license by particular license classifications, or if there is reason to believe that the business is not in compliance at the time of renewal. 

Appealing Code Compliance Denial

Sec. 7-24. - Code compliance procedure.

(d) Appeal of conditional approval or denial—Other than zoning or land use. For purposes of this section, an approval of a business license with conditions, or the denial of a business license pursuant to this section, shall be called a code compliance denial. A person who applied for a business license or for renewal of a business license that is subject to a code compliance denial may appeal as follows:

(1) Within thirty (30) days of the occurrence of the code compliance denial the person must submit to the Revenue Department a signed written notice that the code compliance denial is being appealed.

(2) The revenue department shall set an informal administrative hearing before the revenue director within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice of the appeal. Reasonable notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing shall be given by the revenue department to the applicant in writing by personal delivery or by first class mail; or if the person so requests, the notice of hearing may, in the discretion of the revenue department, be given by email, fax, or other reasonable means. The thirty-day period may be extended by the revenue department for good cause as stated in writing to the applicant, or by agreement between the revenue department and the applicant. Notice shall also be given to the other city department(s) which issued the code compliance denial, and such other department(s) shall have a representative who is familiar with the reason for the denial and who has the discretion to amend or remove the code compliance denial present at the administrative hearing. The administrative hearing shall be controlled and conducted by the revenue department. The participants shall discuss the circumstances giving rise to the code compliance denial in good faith and ascertain whether an agreement can be reached to alter, amend, mitigate, or remove the denial. The revenue director shall have the final decision whether to alter, amend, mitigate, or remove the code compliance denial and shall issue a decision in writing within fourteen (14) days of the hearing, which decision shall be served on the applicant in the same manner as was the notice of the hearing.

(3) If the applicant is aggrieved by the decision of the revenue director, the applicant may appeal the decision to the city council within thirty (30) days after receiving the ruling from the revenue director. The written appeal shall be submitted to both the city clerk and the revenue department, following the same procedures as for revocation of a business license.

(e) Appeal of conditional approval or denial - zoning or land use reasons. Code compliance denials based on land use regulations or zoning ordinances, which are under the jurisdiction of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, shall be subject to review as provided by state law.

(f) Code compliance not a certification of lawfulness; no cause of action. The code compliance procedure is entirely regulatory in nature as an exercise of the police powers of the city, and for determining whether a license shall be issued. It shall not relieve the taxpayer from compliance with all such codes, ordinances, rules, and regulations. Issuance of a code compliance certificate or the issuance of a business license shall not constitute a certification, endorsement, finding, representation, warranty, or guarantee by the city or the revenue department that the taxpayer is conducting a lawful business or is otherwise in compliance with such laws, codes, ordinances, rules, and regulations; or that the taxpayer or its business does not and shall not negatively impact public health, safety, or welfare. The code compliance procedure and the issuance of a business license shall not give rise to any cause of action against the city for any activity by the taxpayer or the taxpayer's business, even if the city erroneously concludes that the taxpayer is in compliance.