Click on a heading below to expand a section of Frequently Asked Questions.

Business Licenses:

Who needs a business license?
  • Any entity doing business within the City, directly or indirectly, must obtain a combined sales tax and business license.
You are considered engaged in business if you:
  • Send one (1) or more employees, agents, or sales persons into the City to solicit business or to install, assemble, repair, service or assist in the use of products or for demonstration or other reasons; (i.e., locksmith, electrician, plumber)
  • Maintain one (1) or more employees, agents, or sales persons on duty at a location within the City; (i.e., contractors with employees working and on job sites located within City limits)
  • Own, lease, rent or otherwise exercise control over real or personal property within the City (i.e., renting your home for any length of time)
  • Make more than one (1) delivery into the City within a twelve (12) month period; (i.e., florist)
  • Directly, indirectly or by a subsidiary, maintain a building, store, office, salesroom,warehouse or other place of business within the City. (i.e., retail or service shop located within City limits)


Do I have to get a new business license every year?

  • Yes, you must renew your business license each year and pay the annual fee based on the estimated monthly average full time employees of your business. 


But I don't have a physical presence in the City. Do I really need a business license?

  • Most likely. If you are providing any type of service, bringing goods into the City, and/or deriving profit within City limits, you are engaged in business within Aspen and therefore, a business license is required.


Sales & Lodging Tax:

What are the due dates and monthly filing requirements?

  • Monthly returns are due on or before the 20th day following the end of the reporting period.
  • If monthly tax is less than $10, taxpayer may file annually or monthly.
  • If monthly tax is $10 or more, taxpayer must file monthly and continue to file monthly the rest of the calendar year.


When preparing my sales tax return, what supporting documents for my deductions should I retain?

  • Non-taxable service sales: Invoice should clearly denote the type of service performed.
  • Sales to other licensed dealers for purposes of taxable resale: Certificate from buyer’s home state documenting buyer is a wholesaler.
  • Sales shipped out of city: Shipping documents that can be traced to invoice. Shipping receipts should include individual/company where item was shipped, address and invoice number. Invoice should include purchaser’s name and shipping address.
  • Sales to governmental, religious and/or charitable organizations: Valid exemption certificate from buyer’s home state or a letter from IRS indicating exempt status, including name of organization and employer identification number (EIN). Note: In order for purchases to be tax exempt, the organization must be conducting regular religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational business. For example, a church that has tax exempt status would have to pay applicable sales and lodging taxes to a hotel if church members are on a ski vacation, even if the lodging services were paid with a church check.


If my business is service oriented, would I ever need to collect sales tax?

  • Service oriented businesses generally do not need to collect sales tax.
  • Persons engaged in the business of rendering service are consumers, not retailers, of the tangible personal property which they use incidentally in rendering the service.
  • If, in addition to rendering service they regularly sell tangible personal property to consumers, they are retailers with respect to such sales and they must obtain a license, file returns, and remit tax on such sales.


I over collected sales tax on several transactions. How do I account for this excess tax on my return?

  • Excess tax is accounted for on line 6 of the sales tax return.
  • No retailer may retain any tax collected in excess of the tax computed, and should report the excess collections on the return for the period in which it was collected and include it in the calculation of tax due.


What do I do if a purchaser insists they are exempt from tax but cannot produce the appropriate documentation?

  • If a dispute arises between a retailer and a purchaser who claims a sale is exempt from tax, the retailer must collect and the purchaser should pay the tax.
  • The purchaser can submit a claim for refund to the City within 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Any refund will be issued directly to the purchaser.


Why does Aspen have a lodging tax and how much is it?

  • Lodging tax, otherwise known as a visitor benefit tax, was enacted by the City Council for the promotion of tourism and transportation services within the Roaring Fork Valley.
  • A special fund, the City Tourism Promotion Fund, was created and 25% of the monies goes toward transportation while the other 75% goes toward tourism promotion. Funds dedicated to transportation services pay for regional transit services provided by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) and for local public transportation within the City.
  • Funds dedicated to tourism promotion are appropriated by City Council to a professional marketing entity for advertisement, promotion, etc, which is currently the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.
  • The tax is imposed on the leasing or renting of rooms or other accommodations in commercial lodging establishments.
  • The person who is renting the accommodations is required to pay the tax and the person from whom the accommodations are rented is required to collect and remit the tax to the City.
  • The lodging tax is 2.0%.


If I rent my house on a short-term basis, for example, through a vacation website or property management company, am I required to collect and remit sales and lodging taxes?

  • Yes, if you rent your home on a short-term basis, you are required to collect and remit sales and lodging taxes to the City.
  • A short term rental is defined as any period that is less than 30 days.
  • The total combined sales and lodging tax rate for Aspen is 11.0%; however, the City’s portion of that tax is 4.1% which should be remitted directly to the City. The remaining 6.9% should be remitted to the State of Colorado.


My lodging establishment charges a civic assessment/convenience/booking/service fee on each booking. Is that subject to sales and lodging tax?

  • Yes, you must collect sales and lodging taxes on such fees.
  •  It is considered part of the room charge and is not exempt from taxes.


Will I ever get audited?

  • Possibly. Since 2009, the Finance Department has a sales and use tax audit program.
  • The audit period includes all reporting periods with due dates which fall within the 36 month period preceding the date of the notice of audit.
When do I need to update my business license and sales tax information?
If one or more of the following occurs:
  1. Business moves
  2. Mailing address changes
  3. Business or trade name changes
  4. Business is sold or purchased
  5. Corporation merges with another corporation
  6. No longer in business
  7. Business type changes


My business is moving locations. What should I be aware of before I start to move?

  • You will need to update your business license.
  • Your new location will have to receive zoning approval.
  • If you are changing the location or type of your business, it may be subject to different standards, restrictions and fees, depending on the zone in which it is located and the type of the new business.
  • Applicants are encouraged to check with the planner of the day at 970-429-2764 with zoning questions, but you can determine which zone your business property will operate in by referring to the City of Aspen Zoning Map.
    How Can I Obtain a Sign Permit?

    What Zone District Am I In?

    What Kinds of Development Does My Zone District Allow?

    • Once you know what zone district your project is in, you can research permitted uses in the Land Use Code.

    How Can I File A Land Use or Zoning Complaint?
    •  Enforcement in the City of Aspen is handled on a complaint basis. If you believe that something in the city is violating the provisions in the Land Use Code, then we recommend you fill out a Customer Complaint Form.

    How Do I Measure My Building Height?

    What Is "Demolition," and What Are the Requirements?

    What Kind of Fence Could I Build?

    How Is Floor Area Calculated, Including Sub-Grade Spaces?

    How Could I Calculate My Lot Area?

    What Are the City of Aspen Outdoor Lighting Standards?

    What are the requirements to submit a building permit?
    • Please see our Build or Remodel page to learn about requirements and permits for building projects.  
    • In every case any Land Use approvals must be obtained before a building permit will be accepted. Submittal requirements checklists are available at the Building Development Department by the front desk.  


    When are Building, Plumbing, and Mechanical Permits required?
    • There are very few areas of new construction, repair or alteration that do not require permits. Each of the International Codes specifies that all work requires a permit and then provides exceptions to that rule.
    • The safest course of action is to call the Building Department to determine if work that you propose to do requires a permit. A Permit Coordinator can be reached at (970) 920-5090.  
    • Please see our Build or Remodel page to learn about requirements and permits for building projects.  


    What work is exempt from building permits?
    • Examples are "painting, wall papering, carpet, installing tile, repairing leaky plumbing faucets, maintenance of mechanical equipment".
    • Please see our Build or Remodel page to learn about requirements and permits for building projects.  


    What building codes are currently being enforced by Aspen/Pitkin County?


    What are the permit fees associated with a project?
    • Please see our Estimate Permit Cost Page.
    • If you require assistance in calculating estimated fees, our Permit Coordinator can be reached at (970) 920-5090.
    • Additional Information on fee schedules is available in our Resource Center.


    How long does it take to complete the plan check process?
    • Processing of applications for new residential or commercial work in the City of Aspen is expected to take 6-10 weeks.
    • These time frames assume complete application information and no unforeseen problems with referral department approvals.


    What is the relationship between the value of the structure and the square footage as it is used to determine the cost of the permits?
    • City of Aspen adopts a standard "Building Valuation Table" published by the International Conference of Building Officials in the Building Standards Magazine.
    • The square footage is multiplied by the value provided to obtain an assigned value for the proposed structure which reflects the cost of construction for this region.
    • The permit and plan check fees are based on a percentage of that estimated cost.
    • Please click the following links to view our Valuation Policies for Residential and Commercial projects .


    When do I call for an inspection?
    • You can call in an inspection on the Inspection line - (970) 920-5448
    • Or you can request an inspection online on our inspections page
    • Inspections must be made while the work is accessible and visible. Requests made before 7am will be performed on the same day. 


    Do businesses relocating to and within the City of Aspen or Pitkin County need a new Certificate of Occupancy?

    • New buildings, or suites in buildings that were previously not occupied, require a Certificate of Occupancy.
    • Also, significant changes in use of an existing building require a review culminating with a new Certificate of Occupancy.
    • If, however, you propose to occupy a building or suite that was previously occupied by a similar use, a new Certificate of Occupancy is not required.


    How many layers of roofing material are allowed on a structure?
    • For asphalt composition roofing material, the International Building and International Residential Code allows the application of one additional layer of roofing material for a total of two.


    At what point does a building permit expire?
    • A building application expires if not issued within 180 days from the application date.
    • A building permit expires 360 days after issuance if work has not begun or 180 days after work has been suspended or abandoned.


    Can I get an extension on a permit that will expire soon?
    • The Building Official can grant two 90-day extensions on a permit prior to expiration.
    • A letter outlining the reason for the extension must be received prior to expiration date.
    • Please note that if a permit expires, it cannot be extended or renewed. 
    • A new permit must be applied for before starting construction.


    When is Use Tax applicable to a building project?
    • Projects with a valuation of more than $100,000.00 are subject to paying a 2.1% City of Aspen Use Tax deposit on construction materials at the issuance of the Master Building Permit. The deposit is calculated as follows:

                 [(Project Valuation - $100,000.00) x 50%] x 2.1%

    • All projects with the exception of those doing work under a fence, sign, awning or fire suppression permits are subject to paying a 0.5% Pitkin County Use Tax deposit at the issuance of the Master Permit. The deposit is calculated as follows:

                 (Project Valuation x 50%) x 0.5%

    How do I rent a City park?
    • Renting City facilities are done on a first come, first serve, basis and are subject to certain fees for each facility.
    • There are also certain dates and times where particular sites are unavailable for exclusive rental.
    • You can get started with your reservation on the City's own Parks and Recreation reservation site.

    Right of Way Work:

    What are the requirements for a ROW submittal?

    • Completed application form, permit fee, site plan,written description of work to be performed, certified traffic control plan and a 2 year maintenance bond agreement.
    • Find these forms and more information on the Grade, Excavate or Use Public ROW Page.


    How much time do I have to complete my work within the ROW after issuance of the permit?

    • Permits are valid for 30 days from issuance.
    • However, if the work requires a lane closure, sidewalk closure, alley closure or otherwise impedes pedestrian or vehicular traffic flows the project must strictly adhere to the schedule and dates of work negotiated during the permit approval process.
    • If a permit does not impact traffic but will not occur on the dates described in the approved permit, the applicant is responsible to notify the Engineering Department of the new start date.


    What dates of the year am I permitted to work within the City of Aspen ROW?

    • Work is only permitted in the ROW between April 1st and November 1st.
    • ROW work in the downtown core is suspended between June 1st and Labor Day.




    What are the particulars of the new stormwater runoff design standards?

    • The new standards require development and redevelopment to manage and control stormwater so that it leaves the site at the same rate it would leave the site if it were covered with grasses.
    • This is typically referred to as detention-capturing runoff, holding for some period of time, and then releasing it at a controlled rate.
    • The goal is to mimic nature and trick the river into thinking Aspen is a natural area rather than an urban area.


    What projects does the new stormwater design standards apply to?

    • This standard will be applied to all new developments and redevelopments that add or disturb and replace 1,000 square feet of impervious area or more.
    • If the disturbed or added impervious area is more than 25% of the total area of the site, then the site shall be treated as a new development and shall meet detention requirements.
    • This 25% trigger is based on studies that show once an area is 25% developed, the receiving stream becomes significantly impaired.
    • If the site disturbs more than 1,000 square feet and more than 50% of the structure, then the entire site will be required to meet detention standards.


    What if my site cannot meet these design standards? Is there an alternative?

    • The City recognizes that this requirement may be difficult or costly to meet on any particular site. Therefore, the City has provided the option of a voluntary fee-in-lieu of detention.
    • The amount of the fee is based on an estimate of the cost of providing detention off-site in Aspen.


    How much is the fee-in-lieu of detention, and how is it calculated?

    • The Urban Runoff Management Plan approach for detention sizing was used to determine storage requirements for a range of typical sites in Aspen.
    • The average calculation showed that the volume of detention needed is approximately 6.20 cubic feet of rainwater runoff per 100 square feet of impervious area for the maximum design storm.
    • Local detention cost estimates determined the fee-in-lieu to be $434 per 100 square feet of impervious area added or redeveloped.
    • For example, a lot size of 6,000 square foot development must provide 372 cubic feet of detention OR the site can pay $26,040 fee-in-lieu of detention to the City.