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How to Start or End a Business: State-by-State Links

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Whether you’re starting a business or closing one down, it can be difficult and time-consuming to figure out everything you need to do to “make it official” with various government entities. Below is a basic outline of the federal and state paperwork you need to complete to legally form or dissolve a business, along with a state-by-state guide of the specific links you need in order to complete these steps.

Starting a Business

Once you’ve written a business plan, chosen a trade name, and formed any necessary partnership or shareholders’ agreements, you’ll need to complete the following steps in order to formally establish your business at the federal and state levels:

  • Register for a federal tax number (EIN): Most sole proprietors can skip this step, but corporations and partnerships will need to acquire an employer identification number. Learn more about whether you need an EIN, then learn how to apply.
  • Register to pay federal taxes: You can do this here.
  • Obtain any necessary specialized federal permits: If you’re practicing agriculture, selling alcohol or firearms, producing nuclear energy, providing transportation, or conducting certain other activities in the course of your business, you may need a specialized permit.
  • Consider trademarking your trade name: While you don’t absolutely have to do this in order to legally operate your business, doing so helps prevent others from doing business under the same name, or under a name that might be easily confused with yours.
  • File your articles of organization with your state: If you’re forming a corporation, LLC, partnership, or cooperative, you’ll need to file your articles of incorporation, articles of organization, or statement of partnership with the state (different states may use slightly different terminology to refer to this documentation, but the concepts are the same.)
  • Register your trade name with your state:  If you’re doing business under your legal name as a sole proprietor, or as a business that has already made one of the above filings, you can skip this step. If you’re using a fictitious name, or “trade name,” you’ll need to register a Doing Business As (DBA).
  • Get business licenses/permits: Individual states handle business licensing and taxation differently. Some states require a general business license, but most of the time, this is handled at the local level. Depending on the type of business you’ll be operating, you may need a professional license or specialized permits.
  • Register to pay state taxes: You’ll need to register with your state’s department of revenue to pay taxes (which may vary depending on your state and business activities.)
  • Register to pay for unemployment insurance: If your business will have employees (outside of the owners/partners in the business), you’ll need to pay into your state’s unemployment insurance program.
  • Provide proof of Workers’ Compensation insurance: If your business will have employees, you may need to enroll in your state’s insurance program or provide verification of self-insurance or insurance coverage through an outside carrier. Requirements vary by state.

Ending a Business

Before you can close a business, you’ll need to settle your affairs. This means paying off your debts (or declaring bankruptcy), making final payroll and tax payments, selling any assets, and making/reporting final distributions to owners and/or shareholders.

At the state level, you’ll need to file a “Statement of Dissolution” (terminology may vary by state and business type) to officially dissolve your business entity.

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State Links: Starting or Dissolving a Business

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

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