Business and Occupation Tax

​​All individuals and firms doing business in Bellingham, whether located inside or outside the City limits, must register with the City Finance Department and are subject to the business and occupation (B&O) tax, unless specifically exempted by Bellingham Municipal Code. B&O taxes are based on the gross revenues of a business and are similar to the State of Washington B&O taxes; however, these are not the same. You must file your Bellingham taxes separately from your state taxes. For more information about the B&O tax, please refer to the links below. Please note, the City cannot provide tax advice.

Starting a new business? Apply for a business license.

Filing City License and B&O Taxes

File Online – Save time, paper, postage, and there’s no convenience fee.
Instructions For Online Business and Occupation Tax (PDF)


You can pay balances due via e-check, update account information, or close a business.

Please make sure to keep your email address updated to receive important notices. Registered businesses may receive an email with instructions and a PIN number. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure filings are returned prior to their due date.

File by Mail or In Person
B&O Tax Form (PDF)

Complete the above form and make your check or money order made out to the Finance Director. If you have difficulty opening this form, make sure you have the latest version of Adobe.

Additional Forms

Other Information and Resources

B&O FAQ

Business licenses are issued by the State of Washington Department of Revenue. To get a business license, apply here.

The easiest way to file your return is through our online portal. Instructions for how to create an account, file a return or modify your account can be found here. If for some reason you prefer not to file online, you can print out a paper copy from our website and mail it to:

City of Bellingham
Finance Department
210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

For your convenience, there is a drop box in front of City Hall at 210 Lottie Street. It is brown and has the City logo on the side.

Any changes to previously filed returns must be done on a paper return. Write “Amended Return” on the top of the form and fill out the corrected amounts. Calculate the taxes and penalties as normal, and in the previous balance box enter any payment that was submitted with the original return. Amended returns must include a letter describing the changes to your return and why you are making them.

Monthly Returns Quarterly Returns Annual Returns
Tax Period Due Date
Tax due the last day of the following month (example: December 31 for tax period ending November 30) January, February, March April 30 Tax due April 15
April, May, June July 31
July, August, September October 31
October, November, December January 31

If you mail your return, it must be postmarked by the due date or it will be considered past due and subject to late fees and penalties.

Business and Occupation taxes are charged on the gross receipts of your business. Unlike federal taxes, expenses cannot be deducted from your taxable revenue. There are some limited deductions and exemptions, which can be found in the Bellingham Municipal Code 6.04.

Your tax rate depends on you business activity:

Business Classification Rate
Extracting .0017
Manufacturing .0017
Retailing .0017
Wholesaling .0017
Services and other activities .0044

If your gross receipts are less than $5,000 as a quarterly filer or $20,000 as an annual filer, you do not own any tax, but you still need to file.

Yes, all business must file a return even if they have no business activity. Failure to file will put your account into delinquency and could lead to losing your business license.

For quarterly filers:
If received after the due date – 9% of tax due
If received after the last day of the month following the due date – 19% of tax due
If received after the last day of the 2nd month following the due date – 29% of tax due

For annual filers:
If received after April 15th – 9% of tax due
If received after May 15th – 19% of tax due
If received after June 15th – 29% of tax due

For all filers, if tax is due, the base minimum penalty is five dollars ($5.00).

The City cannot offer tax advice on what type of classification your activity falls into.

Please see the following guidelines and examples, or refer to the Definitions section of Municipal Code 6.04.

Retailing: Selling goods and certain services to consumers. Taxable retail services include those generally performed on property, such as repair, but not personal or professional services, such as services performed by doctors, attorneys, or accountants. Examples include:

  • Sale or rental of tangible products
  • sale of digital products
  • Repair or installation of tangible products
  • auto repair
  • car washes
  • catering
  • construction
  • dry cleaners, laundry
  • escrow
  • hotels and motels
  • landscape/lawn maintenance/gardeners
  • painting
  • personal training
  • photography
  • tanning salons
  • tattooing

Wholesaling:  Selling goods and services to businesses who will resell them to others in the regular course of business. The B&O tax is calculated on the wholesale selling price. If you are a wholesaler, you must keep a reseller permit on file from each buyer to document the transaction as a wholesale sale. Do not send reseller permits to the City of Bellingham Finance Department; they must be kept by the wholesaler. Retail sales tax is not collected on wholesale transactions. Reseller permits are good as long as the buyer and seller do business with each other once every 12 months. Examples include:

  • Sale or rental of tangible products to someone other than the end consumer.
  • Sale of digital products to someone other than the end consumer.

Extracting:  Taking of natural products, such as logging, mining, quarrying, etc. B&O tax is calculated on the value of products extracted, determined by selling price. Extractor for hire means a person who performs, under contract, necessary labor or mechanical services for an extractor.  Examples include:

  • Fishing
  • logging
  • mining
  • quarrying

Manufacturing:  Firms that manufacture items in the City of Bellingham.  Manufactured products used by the manufacturer, but not sold (or used prior to sale), also are subject to B&O tax under this classification. The Manufacturing B&O tax is based on the value of the products, which is usually determined by the selling price. In cases where there is no sale, the value is the selling price of similar products. If the producer sells and delivers the manufactured product within the city, that income is also reported under the Wholesaling or Retailing B&O tax classification.   However, tax is only paid on one activity by completing a City of Bellingham Multiple Activities Tax Form to claim the credit. Examples include:

  • Fabricating
  • mixing
  • packing
  • processing
  • refining

Service:  Firms that provide professional services to other individuals or firms. Examples include:

  • Accountants
  • administrative professionals
  • architects
  • attorneys
  • bankers
  • bookkeepers
  • beauty salons and barbers
  • data processors
  • design services
  • engineers
  • entertainers
  • insurance
  • brokers
  • internet service providers
  • janitors
  • physicians, dentists, and veterinarians
  • real estate brokers
  • tax preparers

You can close your business by logging into the online filing portal, logging in and selecting close next to the business you wish to close. Please use the date of closure, not the current date. Your tax account must be fully up to date and a final return must be received which covers the tax period through the date of closure before your closure can be processed. If you have outstanding returns, your account will not be closed, and you will continue to receive notices to file.

For more detailed instructions, please see our web instructions.

If you have questions, please email us at bls@cob.org.

Please email bls@cob.org with your account number, business name, your old address, and your new address. Please specify if this is a mailing or physical address.

Your PIN can be found in your welcome email or reminder to file email. You can retrieve your PIN by going to our online filing portal, clicking on the “Home” button in the center of the page, then “Renew Business Online,” then on “Click here to have the PIN emailed.”

Please ensure our emails are not going to your junk folder. If you still have not received any emails, please contact bls@cob.org and we will make sure your email on file is correct.

Our system does not retain copies of online returns. If you would like to retain documentation of your filing, you must take a screen shot or print the confirmation page when filing.

You can pay online with e-check; with a standard check by mail; or by check, credit card, or cash in person. There are no fees for paying by e-check online.

If you pay online, the system will automatically apply the credit.

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If the contact information or overall ownership of the organization has changed, please contact us via email at bls@cob.org .

Please email us at bls@cob.org and we will respond as quickly as possible, or call (360) 778-8012.