Business Licenses

BUSINESS LICENSE/TAX OVERVIEW

Generally, if you conduct business within any county and/or incorporated municipality in Tennessee, then you should register for a business license and remit business tax.  Business tax consists of two separate taxes: the state business tax and the city business tax.

With a few exceptions, all businesses that sell goods or services must pay the state business tax.  This includes businesses with a physical location in the state as well as out-of-state businesses performing certain activities in the state.

It may take up to 10 business days for the Department of Revenue to register your business.  You are not allowed to operate until your required license is obtained and posted in your business’ location.

For in-state businesses:  If your in-state location has gross receipts of more than $3,000 but less than $10,000 annually, you must obtain a minimal activity license from your county and/or city clerk.   A standard business license is needed from your county and/or city clerk if your gross receipts are $10,000 or more in a year.

For out-of-state businesses that are not contractors:  If you are an out-of-state business with substantial nexus to Tennessee and engaged in this state for business tax purposes, you must register with the department and remit business tax on any gross receipts from sales of $10,000 or more annually in any county in Tennessee.

Out-of-state contractors:  Please click here to visit Revenue Help for more information.

If you are subject to the business tax, you must register to pay the tax after obtaining your county business license. This application can be submitted electronically using the Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point (TNTAP). 

OBTAINING A BUSINESS LICENSE

You must obtain a business license before engaging in business in the State of Tennessee.  Licenses are obtained from the County Clerk (and City Clerk if located within city limits) where the business is located.  Each license is $15.00

Business Name and Location

You must decide under what name your business license will be issued and where it will be located.

  • Building structures of brick and mortar will have a physical location address.
  • For Online businesses your location address will be the physical place where your records are maintained.
  • For either business format the location address can NOT be a post office box or private mail box service address.

Type of Business License Needed

  • No business license:  $0 – $2,999 in annual gross sales.
  • Minimal Activity License:  $3,000 – $10,000 in annual gross sales.  This license is $15 annually and can be renewed through the local county clerk’s office.
    • A Minimal Activity License does not require a business tax account or tax return to be filed.
    • You may be required to have a Sales and Use Tax account if you average more than $400 in sales per month.
    • A new Minimal Activity License must be issued and the $15 fee paid annually.
    • Minimal Activity Licenses all expire each year on May 15th .
  • Standard Business License: $10,001 and over in annual gross sales.  The first/initial standard business license is obtained through the County Clerk’s office at the $15 fee.
    • A Standard Business License DOES require a tax account and tax return to be filed.
    • Subsequent renewals and business taxes are remitted electronically to the Department of Revenue through the TNTAP online service.
    • Standard Business Licenses are not renewable by the County Clerk’s Office.

NOTE: A standard business license may be obtained by request for any business regardless of gross sales.

Sales and Use Tax Account Number

Any person who sells, leases, or rents tangible personal property or provides a taxable service is required to register for sales and use tax purposes, even if the product sold is exempt from tax.

Businesses that average more than $400 a month in sales of tangible personal property and businesses averaging more than $100 per month in sales of taxable services must register for sales and use tax purposes.

  • Taxpayers may register for a sales and use tax account online through the Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point (TNTAP).
  • There is no charge for registering a business for a sales and use tax account.
  • When a taxpayer has registered, the Department of Revenue will send a Certificate of Registration to be displayed at the business location.
  • Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers will also receive a Tennessee Certificate of Resale.

To register a new business, taxpayers should select the link Register a New Business on the TNTAP home page.

FISCAL YEAR AND TAX DUE DATE 

The state administered business tax is a tax based upon business gross receipts, which is due annually.  Your business tax due date is the 15th day of the fourth month after your fiscal year ends (Example: Fiscal Year January 1st thru December 31st, due date April 15th).

  • All classifications will be filed based on the business taxpayer’s fiscal year. The fiscal year is consistent with Internal Revenue Service or Tennessee State Franchise & Excise Tax deadlines..
  • New licenses issued will expire 30 days after the “due date” for the upcoming tax period.
  • By law, all Standard Business License holders must create a TNTAP account with the Department of Revenue, prior to filing a Business tax return electronically. It is critical that you do this as soon as possible and do not wait until the due date of your return, as this could delay processing.

Additionally, if you have a business location in a city that has enacted the business tax, then you are required to pay the city business tax as well. Click here for a comprehensive list of cities that have enacted business tax.  Note that if your business location is not included on the list, it does not necessarily mean you are not subject to the city business tax. There are many areas in Tennessee that are governed by and part of an adjoining incorporated city.

REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS IN TNTAP

The Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point (TNTAP) website is where you register, file, pay and maintain your tax accounts with the Department of Revenue.

Use the informational links below the help you in registering your tax accounts with Revenue in TNTAP

CLOSING A BUSINESS

If you decide to close your business, you must file a final business tax return with the Department of Revenue within 15 days of closing and pay any tax that is due (minimum of $22).  Failure to notify Department of Revenue of business closure could result in assessment of your business for delinquent taxes, penalty, and interest after your business has ceased operations. You should also notify your county and/or city clerk that the business has closed.  

Businesses holding minimal activity licenses that do not file tax returns should notify local city and county officials or the Department of Revenue that the business is closed.

What You Need to Do to Close Your Business:

  • If a business has been issued a license or permit, these must be surrendered and will be revoked by the Department of Revenue.
  • If a taxpayer/business has posted a bond of any type against your tax account, the bond must remain posted until all outstanding liabilities are settled.
  • A business that has a resale certificate and is closing must notify its suppliers in writing that its certificate is no longer valid.
  • All closures require that businesses file final tax returns and remit taxes for which they are registered.

Most account closures can be handled through TNTAP, or by calling Department of Revenue at (615) 253-0600.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND CONTACT INFO

Business tax should be filed and paid online using the Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point (TNTAP).  A TNTAP logon should be created to file this tax.  Click here for help creating your logon.

For up to date information, changes and assistance with determining the new due date, please visit the Department of Revenue’s website.

For assistance by phone, please call 1-800-342-1003 (toll free) or (615) 253-0600.

Email inquiries should be forwarded to: businesstax.transition@tn.gov.

Helpful Information

How to obtain

  • Federal Employee ID#

Contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 or online at: www.irs.gov

  • Sales Tax #:

Contact the Tennessee Department of Revenue online at: www.tennessee.gov/revenue/.  Or you may call a Sales Tax office at one of these numbers:

Knoxville Sales Tax Office:  865-594-6100

Nahsville Sales Tax Office: 615-253-0600 Option 2

  • LLC

Contact the Secretary of State at 615-741-3276.

  • Small Business Information

Contact Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at www.tsbdc.org.

New Business Checklist
Apply for a Business License
Apply for EIN (Employer Identification Number)
Checklist for Registering Business in TNTAP
Registering for Sales & Use Tax Account
Dept. of Revenue Taxes Registration Form
Dept. of Revenue Taxes Account(s) Change of Address Form

Beer Permits

Beer Permits Requirements:

  • Applicants applying for Beer Permit in Roane County must be 21 years of age.
  • The applicant will be subject to a background check done upon applying for the Beer Permit.
  • A fee of $252.00, which is non – refundable, must be paid when returning the application.
  • The application must be signed in front of a notary public or a Deputy Clerk at the County Clerk’s office.
  • The establishment must be 2,000 feet from a Church, School or Public Gathering Place as required by Roane County Beer Laws.
  • Under Public Chapter 297, Acts of 1993, there will be a $100.00 Privilege Tax to be paid by January 1 of each year for all beer permit holders.  

Regulations and Violations:

County Regulations:

1. Beer Permit Holders having patrons with any alcoholic beverages in parking lots or non-designated areas could be summons to appear before Roane County Beer Board.

Roane County Beer Permit Application

Pawnshops/Pawn Brokers

PAWNBROKER & PLEDGE LENDER LICENSE

Pawnbrokers conducting business in Tennessee are subject to licensure and regulation under the Tennessee Pawnbrokers Act of 1988. A pawnbroker must obtain a license from the county clerk in the county in which he or she is conducting business.  A pawnbroker also must maintain a detailed daily record of pawn transactions and deliver this record to the appropriate law enforcement agency within forty-eight hours following the day of the transactions.

A licensed pawnbroker is authorized to engage in the business activities set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 45-6-204. This includes

  • making loans on the security of goods pledged as a pawn transaction under Tenn. Code Ann. § 45-6-204(a)(1),
  • making over the counter purchases of goods that the seller does not intend to buy back. Tenn. Code Ann. § 45-6-204(a)(7).
    • Such goods could include antique, used or scrap jewelry and precious metals.

Tennessee law (TCA§ 45-6-203(4)(A)) defines pawn or pawn transaction as either of the following:

  • “Buy-sell” agreement means any agreement whereby a pawnbroker agrees to hold a property (pledged goods) for a specified period of time not to be less than sixty (60) days to allow the seller the exclusive right to repurchase the property. A buy-sell agreement is not a loan of money, but shall still meet all recording procedures to law enforcement officers as with a pawn transaction; or
  • “Loan of money” transaction means any loan on the security of pledged goods and being a written bailment of pledged goods as a security lien for the loan, for the cash advanced, interest and fees authorized by TCA§ 45-6-210, redeemable on certain terms and with the implied power of sale on default.

The County Clerk receives and approves applications for Pawnbrokers and title Pledge Lenders. The eligibility process for such a license is established in the State Code.

The law requires that the license be obtained from the County Clerk in the county where the establishment is to be operated.

Procedure for a Pawn Broker Application:

  • Complete Application/Petition (Download License Application)
  • Obtain a CPA’s unaudited statement regarding assets.
  • (Must have $75,000 readily available to use in business)
  • Obtain Certificate(s) of good moral charter from law enforcement agency for each person listed in petition
  • Proof of good moral character (citizen certificate and oath part of petition) for each person listed
  • Submit fee of $50.00 in certified funds or cash payable to the County Clerk. This fee is not refundable
  • Applicant must purchase a business license(Class 3, Code 5932)and submit a catastrophe insurance policy on contents and/or pledged pawn stubs-payable to County Clerk (as loss payee)
Petition for Pawn Broker’s License