What Is a DC Clean Hands Certificate?

All businesses applying for a Basic Business License in Washington, DC, must be in compliance with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. One of the requirements is applying for at DC Clean Hands Certificate. The certificate verifies a business does not owe the District of Columbia government more than $100.

What Is a DC Clean Hands Certificate?

Per DC’s “Clean Hands” mandate, DC Code § 47-2862, a Clean Hands Certificate verifies that individuals and businesses do not owe more than $100 for taxes, fines, fees, or penalties to the District of Columbia. Debts higher than $100 warrant denial of City goods or services (including licenses, permits, grants, or contracts).

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Tax and Revenue manages the administration and compliance of the Clean Hands mandate. It is most commonly used as a supporting document for individuals or businesses applying for licenses or permits.

Most businesses have no trouble obtaining this certificate, but there are instances where applications are denied. You will not be issued a Certificate of Clean Hands if the following apply to your business:

  • You owe more than $100 to any District of Columbia agency.
  • You have delinquent or missing tax returns.
  • You do not have an existing payment plan in good standing.
  • You have not paid any liabilities in full.

When a denial is served, the applicant receives a Clean Hands Non-Compliant notice that lists any agencies the applicant must contact to address outstanding debts or fines. Once any issues are resolved, the applicant can submit another request for a Clean Hands Certificate.

Who Needs a Certificate of Clean Hands?

Before starting any business activity in Washington DC, the District requires a Basic Business License (BBL). It allows businesses to operate either generally or within a specific category or industry. The license also protects the public by ensuring fraudulent or unlicensed companies can’t take advantage of consumers.

Per DC Code § 47-2861, a Clean Hands applicant is either an individual or business applying for a license or permit, including the Basic Business License (BBL), or any person who owns a majority interest in a company or other entity.

The Clean Hands Self-Certification is just one of the prerequisite registration materials for submitting a BBL application. Most businesses must also submit proof of corporate registration, tax registration, resident agent appointment, and a Certificate of Occupancy if it has a DC premise.

How to Apply for a Clean Hands Certificate

Prior to requesting a Clean Hands Certificate, the business must have filed a FR 500 Combined Registration Application and received Notice of Tax Registration for the applicable District taxes.

Obtaining a Certificate of Clean Hands takes place online in just a few steps. The application process starts by creating or logging into a MyTax.DC.gov account.

Applicants click on “Request a Certificate of Clean Hands” and fill out the requested information on the website. The online form asks for the following details:

  • The name of the owner, partner, or corporate officer on record with the Office of Tax and Revenue
  • A scanned copy of a valid government-issued ID
  • The business’s name and address
  • Tax identification number (usually the business’s EIN)

Once an application is submitted, a Certificate of Clean Hands is generated automatically if the business is in compliance. The applicant will also be notified if the business does not meet the Clean Hands criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Access My Certificate of Clean Hands?

Individuals and businesses must log into MyTaxDC and follow the online application to obtain their certificate. Requests submitted online are confirmed or denied automatically.

How Long Will It Take to Receive a Clean Hands Certificate When a Manual Request Is Submitted?

Manual requests are permitted when a business or individual is not required to pay DC taxes— for example, if an out-of-state company was applying for a DC-established grant. The expected turnaround time for a manual Clean Hands Certificate request is up to three business days. Delays can occur depending on the circumstances of the manual request.

Will My DC Clean Hands Certificate Expire?

A DC Clean Hands Certificate represents a business’s standing with the DC government at the time it is issued. DC is unique in that most agencies have central visibility into the amount a business owes. This system allows agencies to verify up-to-date status information. Non-resident applicants’ certifications, however, expire 90 days from the issue date.

If I Owe a Debt and Have a Payment Plan with the Office of Tax and Revenue, Am I Eligible for a Certificate of Clean Hands?

A business or individual taxpayer cannot obtain a Clean Hands Certificate if they owe more than $100 to any DC agency, have missing tax returns, or are delinquent on any payment plans. However, exceptions are possible with a payment schedule.

You may be able to obtain a Clean Hands Certificate if you have an ongoing payment plan with the Office of Tax and Revenue to resolve outstanding debts. However, that certificate will not be generated until the first payment has been posted in your bank account.

What Is Evaluated When I Submit A Request for a Certificate of Clean Hands?

A business owner, officer, manager, or authorized third party can request a Clean Hands Certificate. The Office of Tax Revenue and the Department of Employment Services search for liabilities and unfiled returns.

How Do I Validate My Certificate of Clean Hands?

To validate your Certificate of Clean Hands, you must utilize MyTax.DC.gov. From the homepage, you can access the “Validate a Certificate of Clean Hands” hyperlink, enter the ID number, and last four digits of the taxpayer ID. The website not only confirms the authenticity of a certificate but also provides an up-to-date status. The system updates on a daily basis.

Maintain Your Business Licenses and Certifications with Harbor Compliance

Whether you’re operating a business in DC or one or more states, certificates and other requirements are often needed to maintain business licenses. Keeping track of records, registration information, and expiration dates can be challenging.

Harbor Compliance provides comprehensive licensing services for businesses at every stage of the corporate lifecycle. We fully manage business licensing, including licensing for qualifying individual professionals and companies in regulated industries. Contact us today to learn more.