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Start A New Business in the DMV

If you are thinking about starting a new business in DC, Maryland or Virginia, there are several things you will need to do to get started. Here is a checklist of tasks for most businesses:

  1. Register the business. You will need to decide what legal form the business will take (ie sole proprietor, LLC, corporation) and register it with the government.

  2. Obtain a tax ID. If you decide on anything other than a sole proprietorship, you will need to obtain a new tax ID number from the IRS.

  3. Obtain a business license. Business licenses are typically issued by the city or county in which you are located.

  4. Obtain an occupation permit. If you rent an office, your landlord will provide you with this. If you are working from home, you may need to get a permit to do so.

  5. Register the tax ID. The local tax authorities want to know whether to expect sale or use taxes from your business so they insist you register with them, even if you won’t.

  6. Create an operating agreement. This is a simple document that governs how your business is run. You may need to provide a copy of it to a bank when you open a new account.

  7. Open a separate account for the business. Technically, it does not need to be a “business” account per se, but you should keep separate accounts for your company and you.

  8. Buy insurance (optional, but not really). General liability insurance is relatively cheap and easy to get and will provide you with additional peace of mind.

This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


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