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[ 0 ] May. 23, 2011 | SBO Editor

Whether you are starting a new business or expanding an existing business, you will need to follow some basic steps to ensure you have all the necessary licenses, permits and registrations needed to legally operate, says the U.S. Small Business Administration.

1. Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

You must organize your business as a legal entity. There are several options to consider, and all have different legal, financial and tax considerations. The right legal structure for your business depends on a number of factors, including the level of control you want to have, your business’ vulnerability to lawsuits and financing needs.

The legal structure you choose will determine further registration requirements. Once you choose a legal structure, you may have to file registration forms with your state and/or local government. The requirements vary from state to state.

Choose the appropriate legal structure for your biz. The www.sba.gov site has info on this.

2. Register Your Business Name

“Doing Business As,” “DBA,” “Assumed Name,” and “Fictitious Name” are terms that are used to describe the process of registering a legal name for your business.

By default, the legal name of a business is the name of the person or entity that owns a business. If you are the sole owner of your business, its legal name is your full name. If your business is a partnership, the legal name is the name given in your partnership agreement or the last names of the partners. For limited liability corporations (LLCs) and corporations, the business’ legal name is the one that was registered with the state government.

Your business’ legal name is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax identifications, licenses and permits. However, if you want to open a shop or sell your products under a different name, then you may have to file an “assumed name” registration form with your state and local government.

Requirements vary state by state.

3. Obtain Your Federal Tax ID

Employers with employees, business partnerships and corporations, and other types of organizations, must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The EIN is also known as an Employer Tax ID and Form SS-4:

U.S. Internal Revenue Service
Phone: 1-800-829-4933

4. Register with Your State Revenue Agency

Just as you must have a Federal Tax ID, you will also need to obtain Tax IDs and permits from your state’s revenue agency.

If you plan to sell products and you are required to collect sales taxes, you will likely need to obtain a Sales Tax Permit or Vendor’s License from your state or local government (or both).

The State and Local Tax page at the sba.gov site is a starting point for learning about your state and local tax registration requirements. If you are looking for a specific state or local tax permit or license, use our search engine to find specific state and local tax forms and requirements.

5. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Most businesses are required to obtain some type of business license or permit to legally operate. The vast majority of small businesses will need to obtain a general business license or industry-specific operating permits from state and local government agencies.

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Category: Features