Starting a New Business
Starting a new business in Stephens County is not hard .. but there are steps you have to take. As a new business owner, to avoid legal issues, you must obtain proper business licenses and permits, as well as follow the regulations of the state.
In addition to federal and state licenses and permits, most businesses will need a local license or permit in order to conduct business within their specific county or municipality. These will vary, and depend on the nature of your business. For example, if your business serves the public and produces a lot of waste, you should expect to need permits from the local fire department and waste management department. Other common local permits include food and liquor licenses, as well as signage permits.
The Stephens County Development Authority has created a 43 page guide to starting a new business. Click here to download PDF.
Here is a detailed summary of business regulations in Georgia:
Tax Regulation Guidelines
Business owners in Georgia must obtain both federal and state tax identification numbers for taxation purposes. Also, all companies operating in the state must apply for all licenses, permits and registrations that relate to business functions. These permits and licenses include income tax withholding, sales and use tax (sellers permit), and unemployment insurance tax. Other business taxes you should consider are corporate income tax and corporate franchise tax. To get more information about state tax regulations, visit the Georgia Department of Revenue website.
Business License Registration
In Georgia, small-business owners must apply for a business license that corresponds with the type of business they operate or service they provide. If they run a restaurant, bar or grocery that sells alcoholic beverages, they must also apply for an alcohol license to sell liquor in Georgia. All businesses must purchase a Georgia buying service license if they charge a membership fee to the public for access. A buying service license is valid for one year and costs $50. The license must be renewed on an annual basis. You can learn about how to register for a business license or service license and download an application by visiting www.georgia.gov. .
Georgia allows owners of a sole proprietorship to use their own name as their business name. If they choose to use a fictitious name instead of their real one, they must register the fictitious name with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division. With a sole proprietorship, an owner does not have to register the business with the state. If you own a corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or nonprofit, you must file articles of incorporation with the Corporations Division, as well as a legal business name. For more information about incorporating a business in Georgia visit www.georgia.gov.
Filing a Fictitious Name (DBA)
To operate a business in Georgia under a business name that is different from your own name, you must register a fictitious name with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where you conduct business. A fictitious name filing of Doing Business As allows you to operate a sole proprietorship or general partnership under a business name. You do not have to file a DBA if your business is a nonprofit, corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership. These entities can register their business names as part of the articles of incorporation they file with the Corporations Division.
An owner of a business in Georgia that hires employees must follow the general employer regulations to operate a business in the state.
- Income Tax Withholding Guidelines: It is recommended by the Internal Revenue Service that you maintain accurate employee tax withholding records for tax filing purposes and basic bookkeeping. Employers must obtain a signed income tax withholding form (Form W-4) from each employee. Employees must complete a Form W-4 at the time they are hired for employment. The Form W-4 must be filed with the IRS by employers, who are responsible for federal employee income tax withholdings.
- Federal Wage and Tax Statement (Form W-2): Employers must file annually a federal wage and tax statement (Form W-2) with the Social Security Administration by the end of February or March 31 of the previous tax year. Businesses must send Copy A of the W-2 to the Social Security Administration and send copies of the W-2 to employees by January 31 of the current tax year. All employers must complete a Form W-2 for each employee they paid a salary, compensation or wage during the tax reporting year.
- Employee Eligibility Verification (I-9): Under federal law all employers must obtain a completed and signed employee eligibility verification form (I-9) from each employee they hire. The I-9 form verifies whether an employee is eligible to legally work in the U.S. The form must be completed within three days after the new employee is hired. The law applies to both citizens and non-citizens. Failure to submit the I-9 form will make the new employee ineligible to work in the U.S.
- New Employee Hiring: All Georgia employers must report new employee hires and re-hires to the Georgia New Hire Reporting Program. Employers can report new hires using the online reporting form. An employer is required to report a new hire even if the employee ends up working for only one day. Re-hires must be reported by employers if they are returning to work following a layoff, furlough, leave without pay, or other form of termination of employment. Temporary agencies must also report each employee they place on assignment.
- Insurance Requirements: If your company has employees you must file a tax-and-wage report each business quarter with the Georgia Department of Labor. Employers will receive a report during the last week of the reporting quarter and must return the report by its due date. Employers are required to report all employee wages, as well as tax on the first $8,500 in earnings for each employee per year. The report can be filed online, by mail, or via Magnetic Media. Employers are obligated to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. They can purchase this insurance from a commercial carrier or through the state Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Employers can also be self-insured.