Apply For A Business License Knoxville, Tennessee

What should I know about applying for a business license in Knoxville, Tennessee?

If you want to be a business owner in Knoxville you must not only apply for a city business license, but also a county license. The business license is also called the Business Tax License. They must be renewed each year with both separate entities. Within 20 days of the start of your business you must obtain a business license. Again, you must deal with both the county and the city to get one. If your business license is not obtained within 20 days, fees may apply. The renewal date varies based on your business classification. For details on business classification you may contact Knox County. Their business phone number is (865) 215-2392. The City of Knoxville Department of Revenue’s business phone number is (865) 215-2083.

To apply for a business license with Knox County, visit To apply with the City of Knoxville, visit Your business license may take approximately one to three days to be processed. For both applications you must submit a copy of either your driver’s license or a DMV-issued photo ID.

What are the costs associated with a business license?

The business license fee must be submitted to both the City of Knoxville and Rutherford County. The fee due to both government bodies is a $15.00 tax and an additional $5.00 fee to record your business as active at the County Recorder’s Office. This must be submitted to the City of Knoxville and to Knox County within 20 days of completing and filing your application. Annually, you must complete and file a gross receipts report, the tax due will be evaluated based on your business classification and your monetary receipts for the year; you are required to report this information to the Knox County Clerk. The time each year that the gross receipts report is evaluated varies depending on your business classification. For general information on the business classification so you may have an estimate as what to expect, please call the City of Knoxville at (865) 215-2083. Please take note that there are two tax fees due each year, one for the City of Knoxville and one for Knox County. These fees must be paid separately.

You will not receive your business renewal license until both are satisfied. Businesses that are exempt from paying the county and city taxes are those that gross less than $3,000.00 annually. Additionally, the following are also exempt, no matter the gross: manufacturers, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, attorneys, accountants, schools, religious organizations, insurance agents, loan companies, security exchanges, and public utilities. A Personality Tax may also be assessed. To determine if you will be taxed for this, please call City of Knoxville Department of Revenue at (865) 215-2083. Payments to both entities may be made by personal check, cash, money order, or credit card.

How do I find out if my location is zoned for business?

Please contact the Planning Department at (865) 215-2083.

I want a business that is operated from my home. What should I do?

Just as you must apply for a standard commercial business, you must also apply if you plan to have a home-based business. You may contact the City of Knoxville at (865) 215-2083. You may also go to the office in person to complete the application.

And if I still have questions?

Please contact both the City of Knoxville and Knox County for questions.

City of Knoxville
400 Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 215-2392

 Knox County Clerk
Old Court House
300 Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 215-2083

If you have questions about the process in general, it is recommended that you contact the City of Knoxville and/or Knox County directly. The State of Tennessee Department of Revenue offers a toll-free tax information line for taxpayers: 1-800-342-1003.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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