Business Resource Hub
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Can I start 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 www.scsbos.sc.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 DHEC for specific licensing and regulatory requirements at www.SCDHEC.gov.
What licenses will my business require?
If the nature of your business requires a professional license or occupational license for operation contact the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at www.llr.state.sc.us. Apply for a city or county business license at city hall, county courthouse, or administration building. If your business requires building a new facility, contact local zoning and ordinance boards, secure architectural renderings, obtain a building permit and contact the state fire marshal for a fire and safety inspection before opening the business. Go to www.llr.state.sc.us/firemarshal.asp.
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 www.SCSBOS.sc.gov. 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 South Carolina Department of Revenue for your South Carolina income tax withholding identification number. Contact the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce for state unemployment insurance (SUI) quarterly returns.
- All businesses must adhere to OSHA standards.
What do I need to apply for a loan?
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 South Carolina Small Business Development Center (SC SBDC) for assistance with crafting your business plan, forecast financials and lender contacts. In South Carolina, access SC SBDC 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 South Carolina 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.
How do I add sales taxes to product sales?
Apply for South Carolina sales and use tax with the South Carolina Department of Revenue on www.SCSBOC.sc.gov.
How do I know if I need a patent, trademark or copyright?
Generally speaking, if your idea relates to something useful that can be manufactured, including an improvement to an existing product, then you should consider patent protection. If your idea related to a process or method for making or using something useful, patents still apply. If your idea involves naming a specific product or service, you are going to want to look into trademarks.. Trademarks cover titles, logos and slogans for products and services. If you want to protect the way something is done - that is, the expression or style and not the underlying idea - a copyright is what you need to look in to. You can claim copyright protection of the original expression in books, poetry, plays lyrics, music, audiovisual works, photographs, sculptural works, artistic works, architectural plans, and pantomimes.
Are there any other items that I should seek a CPA/Accountant for?
Prior to and during the formation of the business, as well as the development of the business plan, the service of a CPA or accountant can help you to avoid unnecessary mistakes and save valuable time. After registering the business with the Secretary of State and securing the EIN number:
- Contact an accountant, preferably a CPA, and provide them with all of the basic business information so that the initial books may be opened in a timely and orderly manner.
If the business is a partnership: If operating as a general partnership, it is a good idea to develop a general partnership agreement to specify the details of how the partnership will work.
- File a state partnership return (K-1) with the South Carolina Department of Revenue each year on or before April 15th or on or before the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the fiscal year.
- File IRS Form 1065 to report partnership income. Each partner must report his or her share of self-employment income on Schedule SE of Form 1040 and income or loss from partnership operations on Schedule E of Form 1040.
If the business is a corporation:
- Complete the initial South Carolina license and occupation tax return. Pay the initial tax based on the capital stock issued.
- Consider election of S corporation status (IRS Form 2552 or 2553) or take steps to ensure that stock issued will qualify as Section 1244 stock under Internal Revenue Code standards. Services of a CPA and attorney are recommended to help you with this.
- File Federal Income Tax Return Form 1120 (Form 1120-S for an S-corporation). Services of a CPA are recommended to help you with this.
- Deposit federal taxes and accompanying coupons in an authorized bank. Services of a CPA or accountant are recommended to help you with this.
*This is not a comprehensive list.
Are there any other items that I should seek an attorney for?
Following the registration of the corporation's name with the Secretary of State and preparing and filing the Articles of Incorporation your attorney will:
- Prepare consent for appointment of registered agent (as part of the legal documents filed).
- Arrange for advertising of the incorporation for two successive weeks with the local newspaper designated to handle legal advertisements.
- Prepare a consent action form or hold a meeting of the shareholders to elect a board of directors for the corporation.
- Prepare by-laws to be adopted at the organizational meeting of the board of directors which shall also include election of officers.
- Accept share subscription agreements and investment letters exempting the stock from state and federal securities laws (CPA may also support this process).
- Accept payment of stock from the stockholders and issue certificates. The shareholders should execute receipts for the certificates (CPA may also support this process).
- Complete stockholder's information in corporate minute book and stock ledger (CPA may also support this process).
- Consider adopting a cross-purchase or stock redemption agreement, and in turn, place a legend on the stock certificates restricting the sale, assignability or transferability of stock (CPA may also support this process).
*This is not a comprehensive list.