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How to Start a Business in Virginia

If you are a Virginia resident and you would like to open your own business, then you must first gain an understanding of laws and regulations for the state. For example, each Virginia business must be properly registered. You must also decide what type of business structure you intend to have, such as a business where you are the sole proprietor versus a business where you intend to have one or more partners. Every VA business must also have the proper tax information on file with the Commonwealth of Virginia. New business owners must also learn how to use the VA Business One Stop system. This program is designed to provide you with online assistance while you are creating your business, as well as after you have opened the doors to the public. Below you will find information about Virginia One Stop, as well as the steps you must follow in order to guarantee that your new business is following all VA business rules and laws.

The Virginia Business One Stop System

The Virginia Business One Stop system is an online resource you can use as a business owner. One Stop was created in 2008 to help Virginia business owners like you to access necessary resources. One Stop also provides resources which can help you to maintain your business on an ongoing basis once you have properly established created an account.

Choosing a Structure for Your Virginia Business

Prior to starting your Virginia business, you must select a business structure. One option is to set up your business as a sole proprietorship, which means you can claim your business income as personal income for tax purposes. An alternative is to set your business up as a temporary joint venture or permanent general partnership in which multiple business partners have a financial claim along with you. In such a case, you and all your business partners are equally liable for any debts incurred by your business. You may also choose to set up your business as a limited liability company (LLC). As the owner of an LLC, you are only partially liable for any legal issues which arise relating to the day-to-day operations of your company.

If you want to separate your personal finances and liabilities entirely from those of your company then you can choose to set your company up as some form of corporation. A C-Corporation allows your business to be taxed separately from your personal finances. An S-Corporation gives you personal liability protection.

Choosing and Registering a Virginia Business Name

After you choose a structure for your business, you must decide on a name for the company or corporation. While making that decision, use the state of Virginia's online tool to make sure that the business name you choose is not already being used. You can use the VA One Stop website to register your business online in most cases.

Obtaining Tax ID Numbers for Your Virginia Business

Both Virginia and the federal government must be able to identify your business for tax purposes. Therefore, you are required to obtain both federal and state tax ID numbers if you are opening a new company, regardless of the company structure. Form R-1, which is also known as the Virginia Department of Taxation Business Registration Form, is the form you need in order to register your business for tax purposes and get a tax ID number. You can obtain form R-1 online or by visiting the Virginia Tax Office of Customer Services in Richmond. You must also obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. The IRS form for establishing an EIN can be obtained online. If you will be selling goods or products, you will also have to register for state sales tax.

Taxes for Virginia Businesses

In Virginia, you are required to pay quarterly taxes on your income. The amount you pay is an estimation of what you truly believe you will make over the course of the year. Working directly with a knowledgeable accountant can make the difference in these instances, because he or she can assist you in determining how to make the proper payments and when to make them. If you have employees, you are required to pay payroll taxes.

Obtaining Proper Business Licenses for Your Virginia Business

After you have an official name and tax ID numbers for your Virginia business you must also obtain proper business licenses, if necessary. Not every Virginia business is required by state law to be licensed. The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation oversees licensing boards for businesses which do require licensure in Virginia. You must contact them to see if your business can be operated without a license or determine which business licenses you need at the state level.

Before you can open the doors of your new business you must also see if you need any additional licenses based on the county, city or town in which you live. Some counties or municipalities in Virginia require permits and licenses for specific business types which are separate from the state requirements. Depending on the exact governing agencies in your town or county you must contact your local Department of Finance, Zoning Office or Commissioner of Revenue to obtain that licensing information. After you have received the proper federal, state and local ID numbers and licenses you can legally open your Virginia business.

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