Business license- which address?

Hello, I am about to apply for a business license in Washington State. For primary business activity, do I choose “Real Estate Rental – Short Term Residential (under 30 days)” or “cabin rental”? It asks for the physical address of my business- is this the Airbnb address or my primary home where I will be physically managing the Airbnb? I’m conducting the business FROM my primary, but the business itself is the Airbnb.

While I don’t live in WA, unless it is a cabin (in which situation you wouldn’t ask) I would think that you choose :

The primary business address would be your home, from which you are managing the business. After all, if you had five Airbnb rentals, you couldn’t list each as the business address.

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Great points! Thanks!

Seems to me the primary business address is the cabin address. If you ran a hardware store or a restaurant the business address would be those, not your residence just because you did your bookkeeping at home.

Why don’t you contact the licensing dept. and ask?


Always good advice.

I don’t know how responsive they are, though. If they aren’t, it would seem natural to list the primary residence as the place of business because, to your examples this is not a restaurant or hardware store. If the OP had multiple short-term rentals the state would likely want just one address. In this situation it would be the OP’s home. The hospitality is generated from the home.

Also, it might be important tax-wise and fact-wise to note that it’s not just accounting that the OP does from its primary residence.

If this is a hospitality business that the OP is running – not just the passive ownership of real estate – that business is being run from the primary home.

From a practical point if the Airbnb property’s address is listed mailings will likely go there. It’s inconvenient. The more I think about it though the more I think it’s important and accurate that the primary residence is the business address. In retrospect, I wouldn’t think it necessary to call. @Junco : I wouldn’t delay getting your application in by waiting to make the call when the state’s offices are open.

It doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what the OP’s licensing entity wants.


Yes, they want the business address.

Rude, and the OP is asking for our thoughts. Why else post here?

A more appropriate response from you would be to respond to the distinctions I made between the businesses you mentioned and the hospitality business, between the passive holding of residential property and the hospitality business, which is operated by the Host, here stated to be the OP’s primary residence.

The bottom line is if you agree that the OP is in the hospitality business that business is operated by the OP in its home.

The OP is not asking for thoughts, he is asking for facts.

Sorry I put it rudely, but what any of us might speculate isn’t of value. He needs to enter the address according to what his local licensing office wants. They may very well want the address of the str he is running, not his home address.

I looked at the application and there is a line for “business mailing address” so that would be your address and there’s another line below it for “business street address (if different than mailing)” so that would be the address of your rental.


Agree with @muddy to contact licensing dept & ask. Pretty straightforward call to get the facts…

Concur that if an application or documents leave some room for interpretation, best to ask the licensing/permitting authority.
Operational location of a business can be relevant to permit, zoning, employment tax and other regulation.

It will be interesting what the Op finds out.

Some jurisdictions require a separate residential kind of permit for each STR; they completely separate that from the business. They often do that because the STR tax rate can differ by location. We’ll find out from the OP what WA does.

It just seems to me from a federal income tax perspective that if the business owner feels that they are in the hospitality business vs being in the business of renting residential real estate that the location of that business is from where the business owner is providing its hospitality.

As far as I’m aware, the IRS and any other country’s federal tax dept. isn’t interested in the address of a taxpayer’s business. All they care about is that you file and pay your taxes.
That is a completely separate thing from what a local licensing dept. requires for a business license.

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The answer to any question regarding local information is to ask locally. Taxes, ordnances, laws, and anything that affects an STR should come from the local government. Anyone who does not immediately tell you to simply 'check your town/city/state/country laws’ is misdirecting you.

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The IRS stuff isn’t the (exact) same as the business license. It doesn’t vary but local and state regulations do. Besides:

Only as an FYI for US filers, I want to clarify that Schedule C and Schedule E, Part I both specifically ask for the address of the business so that is taken care of on those individual forms. And because Sch C is used for so many home-based businesses it actually says, “if the business was in your home at the same address you put on page 1 you can leave this line blank”.

Is it your supposition that all of the information about public regulations (and public laws) isn’t 100% readily available online? Or do you suspect that it’s not written in plain English (and numerous other languages too)?

JFC. It’s an online application with its own website. You can make a phone call about an online application if it is your habit but it is not necessary. There is no guessing or assuming required and there is no super-special WA state employee answering phones that has more information than what is readily available on the website.

Everybody with internet access has the exact same access to 100% of the information about WA business licenses. It is not secretive nor does it require any professional interpretation. And one certainly doesn’t need to plop down in WA state to find it.

Some might say you’re showing your age but that’s not fair to everyone else your age, so I have to assume you’re just being stubborn. I can accept that but I can’t accept you perpetuating some very old-fashioned myth that the information isn’t readily available or accessible, because it absolutely is. It is unreasonable to be suspicious of bona fide public information from a bona fide public information source. I’m sorry, I truly do not want to hurt your feelings or antagonize you but it had to be said. :v:

@Junco It was easy to miss this on the website (attachment below). I didn’t see it right away. Its placement is very subtle so I know why you missed it. (I just knew it must be somewhere). The answer to your question is in there. It is very plain as to what the business address is (the address of your Airbnb, P.9) and that providing transient lodging (e.g. an Airbnb with stays that last for less than 30 days) is considered a “service” under the definition of “retail sales” in WA (p. 7).

Although it’s an online application, there is a pdf version provided. IMO because you can see the whole thing all at once it’s easier to see where they’re going with it so it provides a good reference even for doing the online version:

I didn’t see Rolf saying that the info couldn’t be accessed online. They said to check local laws, that’s all. Could be online, could be with a phone call or even local office visit. As opposed to asking for speculation from other posters on a forum.

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He said, “The answer to any question regarding local information is to ask locally.”

That is entirely inaccurate. No one’s living in a Mayberry and there’s nothing local about public information. The people answering the phones have access to the same exact information and no more.

All of the information is available to everyone with an internet connection. It’s precisely the reason people on the internet ask random people on the internet about the stuff they looked at on the internet.

I don’t know if he means asking around at the shops, asking in line at the post office or making a phone call but he also said:

“Anyone who does not immediately tell you to simply 'check your town/city/state/country laws’ is misdirecting you.”

It’s just a little too conspiracy theory for me and I find it alarming, but I digress and that really is not my point.

My point is that it disempowers people by suggesting that they don’t have complete and straightforward access to their “town/city/state/country laws” unless they are willing to drive downtown or make a phone call and then wait to deal with some local yokel, which incidentally, is exactly how people were disempowered for generations.

Hmmm, likewise I interpreted Rolf’s “ask locally” to be generic, whether looking up info on line, emailing a question (zoning, permitting, and revenue staff in my locale are very responsive to questions), or making a phone call, as opposed to guessing. I don’t get any stubborn-old-coot anti-tech vibe here.


But no one here said that, so I don’t know how you came up with that interpretation. All that was said was to check to your local laws as opposed to getting “it seems to me” or “I would assume” answers on the forum.

And when I lived in a small city in Canada, where my municipal offices were just a few blocks from my house, I would often just go to the office if I had a question and they were quite helpful with the pertinent information. It certainly didn’t disempower me in any way.

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