Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are commercial areas of the District of Columbia that collect a "self tax" from property owners to provide services and programs to the entire BID. The Department of Small and Local Business Development’s manages certification of BIDs, annual tax assessment projections, and the BID charter extension process.
A BID is organized and established by property and business owners to enhance the economic vitality of a downtown or neighborhood commercial area. The cost of BID services is financed by a self-imposed tax on the businesses within the community. If the residents opt to also be taxed, the BID may be called a community improvement district (CID). Often, the tax is a surcharge to the real property tax liability of commercial property. Frequently, these costs are passed by the building's owner to any tenants. The tax is collected by the District of Columbia and all revenues are returned entirely to the organization managing the BID. Business and property owners control the BID and how funds are spent.
BID expenditures are used primarily for purchasing supplemental services, which could include:
- Maintaining commercial corridors through litter and graffiti removal and landscaping (clean teams) to supplement city services;
- Increasing security through the presence of ambassadors who walk the commercial district
- Promoting the commercial district and the businesses operating therein; and,
- Making capital improvements (e.g. street furniture, decorative lighting) to supplement city services.
Currently, there are eight established business improvement districts, which provide programs that address commercial District-wide issues, e.g., cleanliness, maintenance, safety, promotion, economic development, and other collective business issues in their coverage areas.