Start Your Own Business in Nebraska: Seven Steps You Need to Take

From licenses and permits to taxes and insurance, learn what you need to do to start a business in Nebraska.



Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in Nebraska.

Step 1. Decide on a Legal Structure

The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership
  • limited liability company (LLC), and
  • corporation

There also are special versions of some of these structures, such as limited partnerships and S corporations. You’ll want to consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Check  Choose Your Business Structure  on Nolo’s website for more information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.

Step 2. Choose a Name

For LLCs and corporations, you will need to check that your name is distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the Nebraska Secretary of State (SOS). You can check for available names bydoing a search  on the SOS website. You can reserve an available name for twelve months by filing an  Application for Reservation of Name  with the Nebraska SOS (there are separate forms for LLCs and corporations). You can reserve a name for up to 120 days. There are also certain name requirements for LLCs and corporations (like including a word such as “LLC” for LLCs or “Company” for corporations). See  How to Form an LLC in Nebraska  andHow to Form a Corporation in Nebraska  for more information.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships in Nebraska have the option file a  Trade Name Application  with the Nebraska SOS if they use a business name that is different from the name of the business owner (for a sole proprietorship) or individual partners (for a partnership). Trade names expire after ten years.

If you plan on doing business online, you may want to register your business name as a domain name. See  Choose and Register a Domain Name  for more information. In addition, to avoid trademark infringement issues, you should do a federal and state trademark check to make sure the name you want to use is not the same as or too similar to a name already in use. See  How to Do a Trademark Search  for more information.

Step 3. Create Your Business Entity

  • Sole proprietorship:  To establish a sole proprietorship in Nebraska, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. For more information, see  How to Establish a Sole Proprietorship in Nebraska.
  • Partnership:  To create a general partnership in Nebraska, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. Although not legally required, all partnerships should have a written partnership agreement . The partnership agreement can be very helpful if there is ever a dispute among the partners. For more information, see  How to Form a Partnership in Nebraska.  To form a  limited liability partnership(often used by professionals), you must file a Statement of Qualification with the Nebraska SOS. For more information, see  How to Form a Limited Liability Partnership in Nebraska.
  • LLCs:  To create an LLC in Nebraska, you must file a  certificate of organization  with the Nebraska SOS. You can file the certificate online; no paper form is available. You will also need to appoint a  registered agent  in Nebraska for service of process. In addition, while not required by law, you also should prepare an  operating agreement  to establish the basic rules about how your LLC will operate. The operating agreement is not filed with the state. For more information, see  How to Form an LLC in Nebraska  and  How to Form a Professional LLC in Nebraska  (for professionals).
  • Corporations:  To create a corporation in Nebraska, you must file  articles of incorporation  with the Nebraska SOS. You can file the articles online; no paper form is available. You will also need to appoint a  registered agent  in Nebraska for service of process. Although not legally required, you also should prepare  bylaws  to establish your corporation’s internal operating rules. Bylaws are not filed with the state.  S Corporationsmust also file IRS Form 2553,  Election by a Small Business Corporation,  with the IRS. For more information, see  How to Form a Corporation in Nebraska.

Step 4. Licenses and Permits

Tax Registration.  If you will be selling goods in Nebraska, you must register with the Nebraska Department of Revenue (DOR) for a sales tax permit. If you will have employees in Nebraska, you must register with the DOR for employer withholding tax. For both types of registration, you can use  Form 20,  Nebraska Tax Application.

EIN.  If your business has employees or is taxed separately from you, you must obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Even if you are not required to obtain an EIN, there are often business reasons for doing so. Banks often require an EIN to open an account in the business’s name and other companies you do business with may require an EIN to process payments. You can get an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.

Regulatory licenses and permits.  These cover areas such as:

  • health and safety
  • the environment
  • building and construction; and
  • specific industries or services.

For regulatory licenses and permits issued by the state, check the  Business Licensing Resources  section of the nebraska.gov website. For information about local licenses and permits, check the websites for any cities or counties where you will do business.

Professional and occupational licenses.  These cover people who work in various fields. In many cases, you can get the basic licensing information by going to the  Professions & Occupations section  of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website. For professions not listed on the DHHS website, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, and engineers, you’ll need to check the website for the state regulatory board for your profession (for example, the  Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects).

Step 5. Business Location and Zoning

You’ll need to pick a location for your business and check local zoning regulations. That includes if you work from home. You may be able to find zoning regulations for your town or city by checking  municode.com.

Step 6. Taxes and Reporting

Nebraska taxes every kind of business. See  Nebraska State Business Income Tax  for more information on state business taxes in Nebraska.

Sole proprietorships.  Pay state taxes on business income as part of their personal state income tax returns (Form 1040N).

Partnerships.  Partners pay state taxes on partnership income on personal tax returns. In addition, some partnerships also must file  Form 1065N,  Nebraska Return of Partnership Income.

LLCs.  Members pay state taxes on their share of LLC income on personal tax returns. In addition, the LLC itself must file a  biennial report  with the Nebraska SOS in odd-numbered years. Nebraska LLC’s taxed as corporations must also file a state corporation tax return. See  Nebraska LLC Annual Report and Tax Requirements  for more information.

Corporations.  Shareholders must pay states taxes on their dividends from the corporation. A shareholder-employee with a salary also must pay state income tax on his or her personal state tax return. Moreover, the corporation itself is subject to Nebraska  corporation taxes. Finally, corporations must file a  biennial report  with the Nebraska SOS in even-numbered years. The reporting requirement includes paying a corporate occupation tax.

If you have employees, you must also deal with state  employer taxes.

And, apart from Nebraska taxes, there are always federal income and employer taxes. Check IRS Publications 334,Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583,  Taxpayers Starting a Business, available at irs.gov.

Step 7. Insurance

Insurance is a good idea for most kinds of business. While insurance often is regulated at the state level, the types of business insurance available are usually similar across the fifty states. Check  Obtaining Business Insurance  for more information.

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