Frequently Asked Questions

Information About Business License Modernization Measure

What contributes to the City of Burlingame’s high quality of life?

The City of Burlingame is a great place to live, do business, and raise a family, with safe neighborhoods, high-quality local schools, and beautiful parks. The City is committed to maintaining strong community partnerships and providing quality City services to support the health and safety of Burlingame residents and grow our local economy.

How has Burlingame been impacted by current economic conditions?

Like every other city across the nation, Burlingame faces economic challenges brought about by COVID-19 and rising inflation. However, our City has a proven track record of fiscal responsibility, making the most efficient use of limited resources. As a result, Burlingame has weathered the current economic recession better than most cities, even providing help to keep small businesses afloat during a difficult time.

How is the City developing a long-term solution to ensure its continued fiscal stability? 

Keeping Burlingame clean, safe, and well-maintained are our top priorities. That is why the City has been working proactively to examine the budget and develop a plan to provide fiscal stability without impacting City services and local residents.

One strategy to secure our fiscal future is to update the City’s Business License Tax, which has not been increased since 1993. On July 5, the Burlingame City Council voted to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot that would change the current $100 annual rate charged to all businesses to rates ranging from $200 to $750, with the smallest businesses paying the lowest rates. The measure would also establish a 5% gross receipts tax for all non-storefront marijuana delivery businesses.

How does this measure affect non-storefront marijuana businesses?

Non-storefront marijuana businesses currently pay the same $100 annual rate charged to all businesses.  If the measure is approved, unlike all other businesses, non-storefront marijuana delivery businesses would be charged 5% of their gross receipts annually. This would only apply to marijuana warehouses, as retail storefronts are prohibited in Burlingame.

What is a business license tax?

A Business License Tax is an annual tax that businesses pay for doing business within the city limits of Burlingame. This tax is only paid by businesses and does not impact local residents, unless they own businesses that operate within the city.

What types of City services will the updated Business License Tax support? 

If Burlingame voters approve the update to the Business License Tax, the additional funds would allow for greater support of essential City services, such as:

  • Maintaining and repairing City streets and sidewalks before they become more expensive to repair
  • Undergrounding powerlines and supporting fire prevention programs
  • Enhancing neighborhood police patrols and crime prevention programs
  • Repairing storm drains to reduce flooding of neighborhood streets
  • Supporting other general city services

Does the measure include fiscal accountability requirements?

Yes, the City is committed to transparency and responsible fiscal stewardship.  All money raised by the measure would stay local to fund services, programs, and projects here in Burlingame. By law, no funds could be taken by the state or federal governments, and annual audits are required. These fiscal safeguards would help ensure transparency and that all funds are locally controlled. 

Would this increase taxes for local residents?

The measure is an update to Burlingame’s existing Business License Tax, which is only paid by local businesses. Increasing the rate of this measure would not increase taxes on Burlingame residents, unless they own a business that operates within the city.

Can the state or federal governments access this funding?

No. By law, every penny must stay in Burlingame to support City services and programs. None of these funds can be taken or redirected by the state or federal governments.

Is now the right time to increase the Business License Tax on local businesses?  

Acknowledging the current economic challenges, the City of Burlingame has been working with our community to explore all options to maintain City services and protect our quality of life.

The current Business License Tax is a flat rate paid by all businesses regardless of size.  This measure would update the rates based on the size of businesses, with small businesses only paying $200 annually and larger corporations paying up to $750 annually to do business in Burlingame.  Tourism is now growing again, and we can expect more visitors to our area, using our services and impacting our community. This modest increase would help ensure all locally owned businesses are treated fairly, with 93% of Burlingame businesses paying $300 or less per year.

How many votes are required for this measure to pass?

In order to pass, this measure must be supported by a simple majority (50% + 1) of those who vote on it.

How can I receive more information or provide feedback?

Please contact City Manager Lisa Goldman at lgoldman@burlingame.org or 650-558-7204 with questions or to provide feedback. You can also visit www.Burlingame.org/BizLicense for more information.

How can I learn more about the current Business License Tax?

To learn more about Burlingame’s Business License Tax, please visit: www.Burlingame.org/BizLicense.