Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in Nebraska.
The most common legal structures for a small business are:
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.