Mayor Gray Announces Business License Amnesty Program
Last week, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) announced a temporary amnesty program that will allow customers to obtain business licenses and corporate registration without receiving $2,000 fines for operating businesses without a license.
“This temporary amnesty program is an opportunity for businesses to come into compliance with the District’s business license and corporations laws without facing significant fines and penalties,” said Mayor Gray. “In the current economic environment, we expect that a significant number of customers will take advantage of this opportunity – providing benefits for both local businesses and the District government.”
The amnesty program began on November 1, 2012, and will continue through December 31, 2012. All businesses operating with an expired business license or operating without any business license qualify under the amnesty program and will not be charged late fees.
Additionally, customers with expired or missing corporation filings or registrations for weights-and-measures devices may take advantage of the amnesty program.
The amnesty program is the result of DCRA’s Citywide Business Compliance Initiative (CBCI), which launched for a trial period in mid-July. DCRA partnered with several District agencies, including the Department of Health and the Fire Marshal, and visited close to 300 businesses to educate business owners on compliance with applicable regulatory and consumer protection codes.
Although no fines were issued to businesses during the CBCI, DCRA found significant numbers of businesses that were operating with missing or expired licenses or corporate documents. The types of businesses with the lowest compliance rates were general-retail stores, food vendors (such as delicatessens, restaurants and grocery stores) and beauty salons and barber shops.
During the amnesty program, customers can come into regulatory compliance without facing $2,000 fines and can seek one-on-one assistance through DCRA’s Small Business Resource Center (SBRC).
By engaging business owners and educating them on applicable District requirements, DCRA is helping businesses avoid citations and protecting District consumers from unlicensed or dangerous business activity.
The following types of customers can take advantage of the amnesty program:
• Businesses operating without any business license or with an expired business license. (Only licenses that expired prior to August 1, 2012 qualify for this amnesty.)
• Businesses operating without current registration with the DCRA Corporations Division (e.g., incorporated businesses, limited liability companies, partnerships, etc.).
• Businesses operating without current registration of their UPC scanners, commercial weights or scales, produce scales or gas pumps.
Under the amnesty program:
• Hearings cannot be requested.
• Payments on citations issued before November 1, 2012 are not eligible for refund.
Customers can take advantage of the amnesty program by submitting their business license activity information on the DCRA website or in person at DCRA’s offices at 1100 4th Street SW.