Step 1. Name and establish the legal structure of your business
If you plan to operate your business as a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or other formal legal entity, you must set up your business before applying for business licenses. You can do this by filing business formation documents with the Secretary of State. If you plan to operate as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you do not need to file incorporation documents, but you will need to register a business name, or “DBA” with your county if you do not. do not plan to use your personal name(s) as a business name.
Step 2. Obtain a Federal EIN
Depending on your type of business and your needs, you may want to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. The EIN identifies your business to the IRS. It is similar to a Social Security Number (SSN) but only linked to your business.
If you are a sole proprietorship or an LLC with no employees, it is not necessary to obtain an EIN, but it is still strongly recommended that you keep your SSN confidential. You will need an EIN if you:
- have employees
- Operate as a corporation or partnership
- File one of these income tax returns: employment, excise or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms
- Withholding tax on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien
- Have a Keogh Plan
- Are involved in organizations such as trusts, estates, mortgage real estate investment conduits, non-profit organizations, agricultural cooperatives and plan administrators
Although the IRS does not require you to obtain an EIN for your business, an EIN can make it easier to open a bank account and apply for licenses and permits.
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Step 3. Register with the Ministry of Revenue
If you operate a business that sells goods or sells regulated products such as tobacco or alcohol, you may need to register with the Department of Revenue to periodically collect and pay various types of business taxes. To register your business or manage your accounts, you can access the Georgia Tax Center. What you will need to register:
- Type of business entity
- establishment address
- Primary and secondary email address
- Account type (example: liquor license, international fuel tax, corporate income tax, tobacco license)
- Registration fees or tax payments for certain types of accounts
- NAICS code
- Names of additional officers and/or registered agent
- Any additional documents to download
Step 4. Register with the Ministry of Labor
If you have employees, you may also need to register with the Georgia Department of Labor. As an employer, you may be required to pay unemployment insurance premiums to the Georgia Department of Labor.
To determine if you are liable, you can access Employer Tax Registration Online on the Department of Labor website. After completing the required information, you will receive a determination as to whether you are responsible for paying unemployment insurance premiums.
Step 5. Apply for local permits and licenses
All Georgian businesses need a business license issued by the city or county where their head office is located. Contact your locality for specific forms, fees and requirements. You may need to provide additional information such as confirmation that you comply with zoning ordinances or that your premises have passed fire and health inspections.
Be sure to obtain all necessary additional permits, such as sign permits, building permits, environmental permits, etc. You may also need to obtain additional licenses that relate to your profession or business.