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Starting Your Business - Domestic (US Clients)

How to Register a Business in the United States?

Every business requires federal and state tax identification numbers, a name by which it will conduct business, and appropriate licenses that allow it to operate, according to the Small Business Administration.

Additionally, any business-specific licenses, such as a real estate agent’s license or a liquor license, need to be acquired depending on the business. Costs of registering differ depending on the business structure you choose.

Naming Your Business

Choose the name of your legal entity carefully. It is important for the chosen name to portray the image you want for your new company. Legally, the name you select must not be "deceptively similar" to any existing company, or must be "distinguishable on the record" of your state.

For example, if a company named "Glow LLC" exists in your state, you probably would not be allowed to name your business "Glove LLC".

Additionally, most states require you to add the words "Limited Liability Company," or the abbreviation "LLC" to the end of the name (for LLCs), or "Inc." , "Corp." or "Incorporate", "Corporation", etc. for corporations.

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Naming Your Business

Select an Entity Type

Of all the decisions you make when starting a business, probably the most important one relating to taxes is the type of legal structure you select for your company.

Not only will this decision have an impact on how much you pay in taxes, but it will affect the amount of paperwork your business is required to do, the personal liability you face and your ability to raise money.

The most common forms of business are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and S corporation. A more recent development to these forms of business is the limited liability company (LLC) and the limited liability partnership (LLP). Because each business form comes with different tax consequences, you will want to make your selection wisely and choose the structure that most closely matches your business's needs.

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Select a State

Once you have decided to incorporate or form a business, you need to choose the state for your new entity.

Naturally, for most businesses the choice would fall on their home state, i.e. the state where the company will do most of its business. This rule holds especially true for smaller businesses that will likely not expand significantly, or that do not want to conduct business outside of their home state, like shops, dealerships, etc.

As your business grows, and it appears that you may need to conduct business in another state, you can always register what is called a "Foreign Entity", or a "Foreign Corporation" - technically, a legal "extension" of your business in another state.

Not all businesses need to be organized in the state where you are currently located (especially if you are a foreigner and live outside of USA). Each state has its own legal requirements and registration procedures for new businesses wishing to incorporate. Certain states are famous as favorable homes for incorporating or forming an LLC due to their unique incorporation laws and favorable tax policies. The most notable are Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada.

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Registered Agent

Legal entities, such as corporations and LLCs, must appoint a person or an entity to act as their registered agent, so in case someone sues them the papers will be served on the registered agent at the registered office. A registered agent is the person or an entity appointed to accept legal documents on behalf of the corporation.

The purpose of the Registered Agent is to maintain a consistent physical legal address in the state in which your company is incorporated or doing business. It also will receive governmental and legal correspondence, including your annual report notices, any delinquency notices and many other documents that your company may be required to respond or take action.

Most states require that a registered agent be listed for the business in the state of incorporation or a state in which it is doing business. The state will suspend any company if it fails to maintain an agent.

In order for your business to maintain good standing status it must also maintain a Registered Agent.

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