Long Beach businesses will once again have to pay penalties for overdue taxes and fees now that the city has ended a pandemic-era program that suspended the fines.

Starting in July, city staff said, businesses with overdue taxes and fees will be assessed a 25% penalty for the first month without payment, then a 10% penalty on any remaining unpaid balance on the first of every month until it reaches twice the original amount.

The move comes as officials are trying to collect a backlog of missed payments, according to a city memo. As of Dec. 26, 2023, local businesses owed nearly $14.6 million in past-due license taxes and related fees.

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Additionally, an estimated $8.5 million in unpaid cannabis business license taxes had accumulated since 2020, the city memo said. The actual amount is likely higher, according to the city, as the estimated amount was based on required quarterly reports from those businesses, and several businesses had not sent in reports as of late March.

Thousands of businesses throughout the city are required to pay business license fees and taxes each year, resulting in roughly $24 million in annual revenue for Long Beach’s general fund, according to the city memo.

Of the almost $14.6 million that was overdue as of December, nearly $10.3 million was owed in business license taxes; just under $1.9 million in health permit fees; nearly $1.1 million in fire permit, inspection and board-up fees; $702,063 in police department false alarm and board-up fees; and $648,058 in housing inspection fees.

Before restarting the late fees, the city tried to recoup that money penalty-free by notifying businesses of their payment options, including a COVID-19 relief payment plan offered from July 2021 through October 2022.

Through that program, local businesses were allowed to apply for payment plan assistance on business taxes and other general fees billed between mid-March 2020 and late June 2021.

In addition to awarding just over $1.2 million in grant money to nearly 2,000 local businesses, the Department of Financial Management and the Department of Economic Development worked to identify businesses that closed during the pandemic without reporting the closure to the city.

Small businesses can get technical help through the city’s BizCare program. It holds pop-up events each Thursday throughout the city. The BizCare Hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 562-570-4249 and can be accessed via email at [email protected].