Investigate Your Licensing and Tax Requirements

Do Your Homework

This is Step Four in the How To Start a Business series.

While writing your business plan might be the single most important aspect of starting a successful business, not knowing the regulations and tax codes that apply to your business is the step that could cause the most harm. There are requirements at the local, state and federal level that all need to be completed before launching a business, so it’s critical to make sure you’ve done your due diligence before you launch your business. 

Check Your Business Name

Be sure your business name is distinguishable. Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office as well as the State of Virginia’s distinguishable name check availability. 

Find Out What Licensure or Certificates Your State Requires 

Visit the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupation Regulation (DPOR) site to see if your business is regulated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  

Determine Your Business Structure 

Make sure you determine this in consultation with your lawyer, and then apply for your business structure (i.e., Partnership, LLC, Inc) with the State Corporation Commission (SCC). You’ll want to set up your CIS account with the SCC and register your Trade Name. The fee for Trade Name is $10. Once you are set with the state, you can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. 

Check Into Home-based Business Requirements 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to determine if your business will be home-based or if you will lease a commercial space. If home-based and you rent or live in a condo, you’ll want to check with your landlord or property management to see if they will allow you to operate your business from home. If your business is running from home, you will need to apply for a Home Occupancy Permit. This costs $50. Be sure to use the same name you used for your SCC application for your Home Occupancy Permit application too. Note that even with a home-based business, you still need to obtain any necessary business licenses and certifications. 

Get a Commercial Occupancy Certificate 

If you’re in a commercial space, you will need to apply for the Certificate of Occupancy (CO). Typically, a CO is issued after the commercial buildout is completed. If you are unsure as to how your commercial space is zoned check in with the BizLaunch team. If you are a childcare center or need special permission to conduct your business in that space, you’ll need a Use Permit. 

Apply for Special Permits 

Commonly used permits are Live Event, Temporary Outdoor Seating and Signage permits. If you have questions about what permits are applicable to your business, contact the BizLaunch team for assistance. 

Prepare for Unemployment Taxes 

Any business with employees on the payroll has to pay the state an unemployment tax. For more information contact the Virginia Employment Commission, located at 5520 Cherokee Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, VA or call 703-813-1300. 

Get Your Arlington Business License

Every Arlington business MUST have a valid Arlington business license in order to operate. To apply, contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office. This office lets you set up your license and pay both the Business License and Business Tangibles taxes.  

Your Business License Tax is the way you pay for your local taxes, while your Business Tangibles Tax is how you pay for equipment you use in the process of doing business. Both taxes are equally important in avoiding penalties and interest. 

Some businesses must also collect Custodial Taxes based on their industry or Retail Sales and Use Taxes based on the goods they sell. 

Once you've completed your due diligence, you are ready to move on to Step 5, marketing your business.

Contact Us

Need assistance? We can help

Starting a business is a daunting task. But you don’t have to go it alone. We can help. Schedule a free, one-on-one appointment with a BizLaunch counselor for help getting started.

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