Business Formation FAQs
The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits. However, if you want to open shop or sell your products under a different name, then you may have to file a “fictitious name” registration form with your government agency.
A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name or DBA name, which is short for “doing business as”) is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.
For example, let’s say Mary Smith is the sole proprietor of a catering company she runs out of her home. Mary wants to name her business Seaside Catering instead of using her business’ legal name, which is Mary Smith. In order to use Seaside Catering, Mary will need to register that name as a fictitious business name with a government agency. The appropriate government agency depends on where she lives. In some states, you have to register fictitious names with the state government or with the county clerk’s office; however, there are a few states that do not require the registering of fictitious business names.
Employers with employees, business partnerships and corporations, and other types of organizations, must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The EIN is also known as an Employer Tax ID and Form SS-4
Income Tax – All businesses except partnerships must file an annual income tax return. Partnerships file an information return. The form you use depends on how your business is organized.
The federal income tax is a pay-as-you-go tax. You must pay the tax as you earn or receive income during the year. An employee usually has income tax withheld from his or her pay. If you do not pay your tax through withholding, or do not pay enough tax that way, you might have to pay estimated tax.
Self-Employment Tax – Self-employment tax (SE tax) is a social security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves. Your payments of SE tax contribute to your coverage under the social security system. Social security coverage provides you with retirement benefits, disability benefits, survivor benefits, and hospital insurance (Medicare) benefits.
Employment Taxes – When you have employees, you as the employer have certain employment tax responsibilities that you must pay and forms you must file. Employment taxes include the following: Social security and Medicare taxes , Federal income tax withholding and Federal unemployment (FUTA) tax.