Monday, February 14, 2011

Keeping it Legal = Licenses & Permits

A significant task for new business is assuring that the business is properly complying with the extensive tax and information filing requirements imposed by various governmental agencies. Stiff penalties are commonly assessed if the required forms and information are not properly prepared and filed. Many types of businesses need to obtain some type of business or professional/occupational license or permit from a state government. Depending on your business, you may need to be licensed at the federal, state and/or local level. Beyond a basic operating license, you may need specific permits. Regulations vary by industry, state and locality, so it's very important to understand the licensing rules where your business is located.

The following are common types of local permits and licenses.
> Business Licenses / Tax Permits - from your city or county clerk or revenue department. Many jurisdictions require a trader's license or tax certificate in order to operate.
> Building Permit - from your city or county building and planning department. This permit is generally required if you are constructing or modifying your place of business.
> Health Permit - from your city or county health department.
> Occupational Permit - from your city or county building and planning development department. This permit is required for home-based business in some jurisdictions.
> Signage Permit - from your city or county building and planning department. Some jurisdictions require a permit before you can erect a sign for your business.
> Alarm Permit - from you city or county police or fire department. If you have installed a burglar or fire alarm, you will likely need an alarm permit.
> Zoning Permit - from your city or county building and planning department. This permit is generally required if you are developing land for specific commercial use.

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need other types of licenses specific to your business. Work closely with your Attorney and Accountant to insure that you are compliant with the current laws for your business, industry and location. You can find specific information for your state from the Small Business Administration

> Sellers Permit
A seller's permit from the State Board of Equalization is required if your business operations involve the sale of retail or wholesale tangible property. This also includes if you sell products on the internet. The requirement to obtain a seller's permit applies to individuals as well as corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. Both wholesalers and retailers must apply for a permit. If you do not hold a seller's permit and you are planning to make sales during temporary periods, such as Christmas tree sales and rummage sales, you must apply for a temporary seller's permit.  There are many activities that may qualify the need for a sellers permit in your state. Due to the various rules that apply, you should contact the Board's Information Center or contact your nearest Board office to determine if you must obtain a permit.

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