on gross receipts, and 6.20% on taxable net income
Who pays the tax
Every individual, partnership, association, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation engaged in a business, profession, or other activity for profit within the City of Philadelphia must ﬁle a Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT) return. This includes:
- Those engaged in commercial or residential real estate rental activity.
- Estates, trusts, or non-profits engaged in any for-profit business or activity within Philadelphia.
- Those who maintain a Commercial Activity License (CAL) but do not actively engage in business.
In all of the situations described above, you must file a BIRT return whether or not you made a profit.
If you have an active CAL but do not actively engage in business, you must ﬁle the BIRT return and tell the City that no business occurred. If you don’t ﬁle a return, you will receive a non-ﬁler notice and court costs could be imposed.
The BIRT can be filed and paid online. Starting with payments due in April 2018 for Tax Year 2017, taxpayers who owe $5,000 or more for the BIRT are required to pay those taxes electronically.
If you must amend a BIRT return, complete a new tax return with the updated amount(s). Place an “X” in the box that indicates the form is an amended return.
The BIRT must be filed and paid by April 15 of each year, for business activity from the previous calendar year. You may also need to pay estimated tax for the following year, depending on when you started business activity in Philadelphia:
- When you file your first year’s BIRT return after starting business activity in Philadelphia, you don’t need to pay estimated tax for the following year.
- When you file your second year’s BIRT return, you must pay estimated tax for the following year, equal to 100% of your actual tax from the previous year. For this second filing only, you may pay this estimated tax in quarterly installments due April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15.
- All following years, you must pay the full estimated tax no later than April 15.
Taxpayers can apply for an extension of time to file BIRT returns. The Department of Revenue may give you an extension of time to file of up to 60 days from the original due date of the BIRT return.
If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) grants you an extension of time for filing the federal return, the Department of Revenue can grant a matching extension for filing the BIRT return up to the date of termination of the federal extension period. These is no specific form to file a BIRT extension.
The Federal extension allows you up to six months from the original IRS due date to file your federal tax returns.
Please be aware that there are no extensions for the payment of taxes. Payments made after the original due date are subject to interest and penalty charges.
If you have an overpayment or tax credit, which you do not wish to be refunded, please contact taxpayer services at (215) 686-6600 to request that it be applied to your desired tax period.
Tax rates, penalties, & fees
How much is it?
The current rates for the Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT) are 1.415 mills ($1.415 per $1,000) on gross receipts, and 6.20% on taxable net income. In 2019 the rate was 6.25% on taxable net income.
The BIRT is based on both gross receipts and net income. Both parts must be ﬁled.
This is a completely separate tax from the Net Profits Tax (NPT), so it’s possible to have to pay both the BIRT and the NPT.
What happens if you don't pay on time?
If you don’t pay on time, interest and penalties will be added to the amount you owe.
For more information about rates, see our Interest, penalties, and fees page.
There are no extensions for tax payments, but you can apply for an extension to file your return.
Your Commercial Activity License can be suspended or revoked if you don’t pay your taxes. For-profit businesses are not allowed to operate in Philadelphia if they don’t have an active Commercial Activity License. This means that if you fall behind with your tax payments, we can suspend your business operations until your account is current.
Discounts & exemptions
Are you eligible for a discount?
Beginning in tax year 2016, there is an exemption of the first $100,000 in gross receipts and a proportionate share of net income from the Business Income and Receipts Tax.
Some tax credits reduce the amount of BIRT owed to the City. Regardless of whether your business qualifies for reductions or exemptions, you’re still required to file a BIRT return.
Tax credits that can be applied against the BIRT include:
- Sustainable Jump Start
- Healthy Beverage Tax Credit
- Community Development Credit
- Distressed Business Tax Credit
- Green Roof Tax Credit
- Jobs Creation Tax Credit
- Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ)
- Life Partner and Transgender Care Health Benefits Tax Credits
- Philadelphia Re-Entry Employment Program (PREP)
- Sustainable Business Tax Credit
- Veterans’ Employment Tax Credit
Visit the Tax Credits section of this site to find specific eligibility and filing requirements. For a complete listing of all credit programs, you can also visit the City’s online Business Services Center.
Economic presence (for tax years starting January 1, 2019 and thereafter)
A business is considered to have nexus in Philadelphia and is subject to BIRT if it has generated at least $100,000 in Philadelphia gross receipts during any twelve (12) month period ending in the current year.
Public Law 86-272 continues to apply for the tax on Net Income.
Active presence (in effect through tax year 2018)
Section 103 of the BIRT regulations includes a definition of “doing business” in Philadelphia. If your business meets certain regulatory criteria, it may qualify for “active presence” treatment (i.e. the tax on gross receipts only).
Can you be excused from paying the tax?
Full exemptions are only available to certain organizations. In general, organizations that are exempt from filing and paying the BIRT are:
- Nonprofits and religious organizations.
- Individuals engaged in a hobby or other not-for profit activity.
- Port related activity.
- Public utilities.
The list above is not exhaustive, and exclusions are based on the facts and circumstances of each business. Review the City’s Code and Revenue’s BIRT regulations to make sure you are eligible for an exemption.
Businesses in the first two years of operations may be exempt from paying BIRT through the Jump Start Philly program. Businesses in the first three years of operations may be exempt from paying BIRT through the Sustainable Jump Start program.
How to pay
File and pay online
You can file BIRT returns and make payments through the City’s eFile/ePay site. Starting with payments due in April 2018 for Tax Year 2017, taxpayers who owe $5,000 or more for the Business Income and Receipts Tax are required to pay those taxes electronically.
File a return by mail
Mail your return to:
P.O. Box 1660
Philadelphia, PA 19105-1660
Pay by mail
Mail all payments with a payment coupon to:
P.O. Box 1393
Philadelphia, PA 19105-1393
Request a refund by mail
Mail your return and refund request to:
P.O. Box 1137
Philadelphia, PA 19105-1137
Forms & instructions