CAN I LAUNCH MY BUSINESS WITHOUT HAVING TO REGISTER IT?
No. To be a legal business, you are required to register with the Secretary of State in order to receive a Certificate of Existence. To register, go to https://www.sos.alabama.gov. If you are considering operating a website for your business, it is a good idea to verify that your business name is the same as your web domain and register them at the same time. Additional requirements with the Secretary of State for corporations and limited partnerships include:
If operating as a limited partnership, prepare and file a Certificate of Limited Partnership with the Secretary of State. (Services of an attorney are recommended).
Prepare and file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State, along with a certificate which indicates that the Notice of Incorporation has been published and requisite advertising fees have been made. (Services of an attorney are recommended).
Complete the Secretary of State's annual registration (services of an attorney are recommended).
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY BUSINESS WILL REQUIRE PERMITS?
If your business is specific to environmental, waste management/landfill, water treatment, underground storage tank, emergency medical service, healthcare, daycare, or food service, contact APH for specific licensing and regulatory requirements at www.alabamapublichealth.gov/ems/
HOW DO I OBTAIN MY EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (EIN)?
Apply for your Federal Employer Identification Number, or EIN, using Form SS-4 through the IRS or on
https://www.govfilingsonline.org. All businesses (corporations, partnerships, and sole proprietorships) with employees must apply for this number. Your local IRS will send you a form with your new EIN on it via the
US Postal Service.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO IF I HAVE HIRED OR WANT TO HIRE EMPLOYEES?
You will need to use IRS Form I-9 in your hiring process and IRS Form W-4. Publication 15 (2010) Circular E explains how to withhold taxes from employee pay. Form 940, Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Form must be filed for businesses with more than 4 employees. Form 941 Quarterly Tax Return and/or Form 944 Annual Tax Return must be filed. There are also ERISA retirement and pension records that must be maintained, as well as FMLA records.
Contact the Alabama Department of Revenue for your Alabama income tax withholding identification number. Contact the Alabama Department of Revenue for state unemployment insurance (SUI) quarterly returns.
All businesses must adhere to OSHA standards.
WHAT IF I NEED A LOAN TO START MY BUSINESS?
If you need a loan to start your business, write your business plan and create three years of forecast financials for the lender to review as part of your loan application. Contact your local Alabama Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) for assistance with crafting your business plan, forecast financials, and lender contacts. In Alabama, access (ASBDC) to find the location nearest to you. A variety of key resources are available there, including contact information for business consultants who can help you with business plan development, financial templates, marketing and sales.
HOW DO I SET UP A BUSINESS CHECKING ACCOUNT?
To set up a business checking account, you will need the Certificate of Existence obtained from the Secretary of State and your EIN number obtained from the IRS. If you are a corporation, complete the bank corporate resolution forms and signature cards necessary to establish a corporate checking account. Services of a CPA or attorney are recommended to help you with this.
HOW DO I FILE MY TAXES IF I AM SELF-EMPLOYED?
Self-employed individuals operating sole proprietorships should make quarterly individual estimated tax payments to the Alabama Department of Revenue (using a voucher from your CPA) and to the federal IRS (using a voucher from your CPA). At year's end, you will file your business income and expense (P & L) on Schedule C as part of your annual 1040 Tax Return.