Starting Business Questions-Web Sites
What do I need to do to start a business?
Since most of the regulations involved in starting a business in Wisconsin deal with taxes, one of the most important steps in starting a business of your own is to find a good accountant who understands small business (see below if you need to find one). The accountant can then help you complete the following steps:
Although you could open the business this afternoon as a sole proprietorship, you may want to consider forming a Wisconsin limited liability company to provide a bit of legal separation between your personal assets and the business. The process is relatively straightforward, and the filing fee is $130 if the application is done on-line. (https://www.wdfi.org/corporations/) A good accountant could do this for you for a modest fee.
Regardless of whether or not you decided to form an LLC, you will be required to file a Business Tax Registration (BTR) form which is how you acquire the sales tax permit you will need for selling tangible products in the state of Wisconsin. The BTR form is pretty straightforward, and has an initial filing fee of $20 and then is renewed for $10 every two years. (http://www.revenue.wi.gov/businesses/index.html) Again, a good accountant could take care of this filing for you along with the periodic sales tax reports you will have to file with the state. For web sales to customers in other states, you do not have to collect sales tax unless you have a physical presence in that state.
Finally, as far as a federal tax identification number is concerned, the official name for it is a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Even if you do not have employees, it is a good idea to file for this number since many suppliers and larger customers will ask for it. The number is free, and can be requested on-line. (http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html)
If you need to find a local accountant who understands the tax regulations for starting a business, you may want to search the support site for QuickBooks which is the most popular small business accounting software. By entering your zip code into the “Find Expert Support” box on the software’s support web page (http://support.quickbooks.intuit.com/support/), you will get a list of accountants in your area who hold themselves out to provide user support for QuickBooks. Even if you don’t use the software, we’ve found the site is a good way to find a list of local accountants who specialize in small business accounting needs.
Hope that helps for now. If you have more questions, just call or e-mail me.
Colleen Merrill, Small Business Development Center Director