City officials say business license process in Fairbanks is too slow

Only 1,000 of 3,000 expected companies have applied so far

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2007

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks officials were hoping for a better response to the city's new business license system.

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But only a third of the business expected to apply under the new system have done so - and the March 31 application deadline is fast approaching.

Mayor Steve Thompson said business owners could just be procrastinating.

"I think they're probably just going to wait until the end of the month," Thompson told the city's Finance Committee last week.

The city had expected some 3,000 businesses to fall under the new system, which requires companies conducting sales inside the city limits to register with Fairbanks City Hall and pay a license fee.

The city mailed notices to companies in early February to inform them of the requirement. But only about 1,000 companies had applied as of March 20.

The Fairbanks City Council adopted the license system this winter in preparation of a new tax structure, which may be created as early as this year.

Most of the larger, recognizable businesses in town have applied, according to Howard Zach, the city's tax collector. Many others have responded by phone.

"I've had several hundred e-mails, also, and I've responded to every one of those," Zach said. "We're doing our best to keep up with everything."

The system's introduction was followed by comments from angry business owners, but Zach said recent calls to his office have largely consisted of constructive questions. Some want help calculating the volume of receipts, he said.

Businesses that are either located in the city or deliver or provide goods or services within the city are required to buy a city-issued business license. The application requires companies to estimate annual sales receipts and report the number employees.

The license fee is $100 for business operations reporting at least $50,000 in annual gross receipts, $25 for smaller enterprises. Companies that are required to register are subject to a misdemeanor charge if they fail to do.

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