Cancel Permits, Licenses, and Fictitious Business Names When You Go Out of Business

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

When you go out of business, you don't want to forget to remove yourself from tax records and public records. No matter what kind of business you have, you probably applied for and received a business license or tax registration, seller's permit, and perhaps a fictitious business name, or dba ("doing business as"), statement from the state or local government. You'll need to cancel your business license or tax registration, your fictitious business name filing, and any other permits or licenses you may have, such as a wine and beer license from the ABC, a food preparation permit from the health department, or a professional license from your trade association.

Why Bother Canceling Permits and Licenses?

It can be time consuming to call or visit various governeent offices and file forms to cancel all of the registrations, permits, and licenses you have, but it's important. Cancelling permits and licenses stops the state, city, or county government from charging you annual fees and holding you to reporting requirements. Also, it rids you of any liability attached to the permit or license in case any one should use it. For instance, if you don't cancel your seller's permit, you could be responsible for any taxes and penalties incurred after you no longer operate the business if someone else were to get hold of your seller's permit number and use it to buy goods at wholesale, skippong the sales tax.

How to Cancel Each License or Registration

Fictitious or assumed business name, or dba. If you filed a fictitious (or assumed) business name or dba statement, you need to file a form for abandonment of the business name with the same agency. Most agencies require you to also publish the abandonment in a local newspaper for several weeks.

Seller's permit or resale license. A seller's permit goes by many different names in different states, including a resale certificate, reseller license, wholesale license, or sales tax ID number. If you hold one, contact the agency that issued it and ask for the form to cancel it. (Don't be tempted to continue to use your seller's permit or resale certificate for your personal use—in most states this is a crime.) If you made a security deposit when you obtained your seller's permit or resale certificate, to get it back you'll have to turn in your permit and certificate and provide documentation that you have made your full sales tax remittance.

Business license. A business license is called a tax registration or business tax certificate in some areas. To cancel your local business license or tax registration, contract your city or county for the appropriate form.

Other permits and licenses. Contact the department or division that granted you the permit or license.

Other Governmental Filings

Here are some other steps you'll want to take.

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