Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in Utah.
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 Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code (DCCC). You can check for available names by doing a business name search on the DCCC website. You can reserve an available name for 120 days by filing an Application for Reservation of Business Name form with the Utah DCCC. There are 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 Utah and How to Form a Corporation in Utah for more information.
Is your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership that uses a business name that is different from the name of the business owner (for a sole proprietorship) or names of the individual partners (for a partnership)? If so, you must register that name with the DCCC. You can register online or on paper.
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.
Sole proprietorship: To establish a sole proprietorship in Utah, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. For more information, see How to Establish a Sole Proprietorship in Utah.
Partnership: To create a general partnership in Utah, 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 Utah. To form a limited liability partnership (often used by professionals), you must file a Statement of Qualification with the DCCC. For more information, see How to Form a Limited Liability Partnership in Utah.
Almost anyone doing business in Utah must register with the state. You should use Utah’s OneStop Business Registration for this purpose.
Tax Registration. If you will be selling goods in Utah, you must apply for a sales and use tax license. If you will have employees in Utah, you must register for employer withholding tax. You can register for both types of tax at the state’s OneStop business registration website.
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:
Utah’s OneStop online system allows you to register simultaneously with all of the following state agencies:
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. Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) is the umbrella agency for nearly all of the state’s regulatory boards and commissions for licensed professions and occupations. The Select Profession/Occupation section of the DOPL website lists the professions and occupations DOPL handles.
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.
Utah taxes every kind of business. See Utah State Business Income Tax for more information on state business taxes in Utah.
Sole proprietorships. Pay state taxes on business income as part of their personal state income tax returns (TC-40).
Partnerships. Partners pay state taxes on partnership income on personal tax returns. In addition, most Utah partnerships also must file Form TC-65, Utah Partnership/Limited Liability Partnership/Limited Liability Company Return.
LLCs. Members pay state taxes on their share of LLC income on personal tax returns. In addition, most LLCs themselves have to file an additional state tax form. The specific form used will depend on how the LLC is classified for federal tax purposes. LLCs classified as corporations for federal tax purposes must pay Utah’s franchise tax. In addition, Utah LLCs must file an annual renewal with the Utah DCCC. See Utah 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 Utah’s franchise tax. Finally, corporations must file an annual renewal with the DCCC.
If you have employees, you must also deal with state employer taxes.
And, apart from Utah 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.