April 9, 2021 – Local businesses most impacted by continued pandemic-related restrictions will benefit from a new program to refund the City of Vancouver’s business license surcharge fee, an “employee fee” that is calculated per full time employee. The Vancouver City Council approved the refund program during its April 5 meeting.
The program, which launched April 1 and will continue through March 2022, is an extension of the city’s temporary business license fee waiver emergency order approved in April 2020 to provide immediate economic relief to all city business license holders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver provided $5.5 million in direct support to businesses. The newly adopted refund program is targeted toward specific industries where ongoing restrictions impact business viability. Surcharge refunds are available to businesses that traditionally serve large numbers of customers indoors, including:
- Restaurants, taverns, breweries, wineries and distilleries
- Fitness and training facilities
- Movie theaters and performing arts venues
- Bowling facilities
“We are thrilled to provide needed relief to our most impacted businesses by refunding license fees,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle. “Our local businesses are integral to our community’s vitality and the city continues to offer help to get them through this unprecedented economic crisis.”
The refunds are expected to provide approximately $500,000 in direct relief to eligible businesses. The reduction in city revenues will be offset by local government relief provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Eligible businesses seeking refunds will be required to first continue with their usual license registration and fee payment process through the Washington State Department of Licensing. Then, those businesses will need to complete a City of Vancouver business license surcharge refund application form to receive the refund. New businesses will need to first apply for a city business license.
Refunds will be returned within approximately 30-45 days, depending on the volume of requests. Business owners who have questions about the program may call city licensing staff at 360-487-8410, option 3, or send an email to [email protected].