Getting In The Game
So much for the basics. If you’re already a business pro and skipped Training Camp to arrive here, welcome! For those who did go through camp, some of this will seem a bit redundant, but it’s still important to understand, especially since this is a deeper dive. Missing a key step can get you sidelined.
Here are the eight steps the state requires to set up and operate a business:
- Research and make a plan
- Register your business with the Secretary of State (SOS)
- License your business with the Department of Revenue (DOR)
- Report your new employees to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)
- Apply for a Reseller Permit with the Department of Revenue (DOR)
- Register as a contractor with Department of Labor & Industries (L&I)
- Contact your local health department for food handling requirements
- Check with your City and/or County for their requirements
Don’t worry if you can’t remember all the steps. We’ll include links where applicable as we take you through The Offense and the various plays you need to make to not only get in the game, but stay in the game.
Getting On The Roster
Before you get too far in setting up your business, remember to register properly with the state.
Corporations, SPCs, LLCs, Nonprofits and Limited Partnerships
A corporation, SPC, LLC, nonprofit or limited partnership (LP) needs to be registered with the Secretary of State. Corporations need to file their bylaws and LLCs need to file their operating agreement. You’ll also need to supply information about your officers (if you’re a corporation) or members/managers (if you’re an LLC) and file an annual report. S-corps also need to file with the IRS to receive the proper federal designation to be a corporation.
Just like in football, you need to have an agent, in this case, a registered agent. This is the person in Washington who will receive your official business notifications. It can be you, your attorney or an outside party, but the person must reside in Washington State, regardless of your location.
Washington State requires all state businesses to have a Washington State Unified Business Identifier or UBI for short. Think of it as your player number; at nine digits, one that is long enough to wrap around your entire jersey. If you file through the Secretary of State’s office you will receive a UBI in two business days if you filed online and 14 days if you’ve applied by mail.
If you’re a corporation you also need a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you:
- Started a new business.
- Formed a corporation or partnership.
- Purchased an existing business.
- Hired or will hire employees, including household employees.
- Opened a bank account that requires an EIN for banking purposes.
- Changed the legal character or ownership of your organization (for example, you incorporate a sole proprietorship or form a partnership).
Sole Proprietorships and One-Person LLCs
You can get your Universal Business Identifier (UBI) by filling out the Washington Business License Application. If you’re a sole proprietorship or one-person LLC, you can use your Social Security Number as your business’ federal identification number. You don’t need an EIN.
To fill out a business license application, you will need…
- Your physical address.
- How much you expect to make in the first year.
- Whether you will be hiring employees, including any under age 18.
- Whether you wish to exempt corporate officers from Unemployment Insurance.
- The percent of ownership each principal or officer holds.
- Whether you plan to sell, manufacture or distribute alcohol. If yes, you may need to wait up to 90 days for a liquor license.
Buying an Existing Team
If you’re buying a business already in operation, be sure you do your homework. You could be liable for back taxes, debts, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance… the list goes on. You always want to get good legal advice about any business you’re thinking of purchasing. Also, be aware that you may need to pay a use tax to the Department of Revenue for equipment, furnishings, supplies, etc. that are part of the sale.
Registering Non-Washington Businesses
If you are registered as a corporation or limited liability company in another state or country and are doing business in Washington, you will need to fill out a “Foreign Profit Corporation – Certificate of Authority” or “Foreign LLC Registration” form with the Office of the Secretary of State.
Out-of-state businesses must register with the Washington State Department of Revenue if:
- The business conducts activities that establish nexus sufficient for imposing B&O tax or the public utility tax.
- The business collects retail sales, use tax, or other taxes administered by the Department of Revenue.
- The business collects Washington’s use tax.
As part of the registration process, you will need to have a registered agent in Washington State. As noted earlier, this is a Washington-based person or business with a physical address who can receive official documents on your behalf.
ONLY IF THEY PERMIT IT . . .
Some businesses will need additional licenses and permits. These include architects, healthcare providers, counselors, attorneys, CPAs and food-related businesses, such as restaurants and food trucks. Other businesses need to be registered as contractors with the state, while still others will need to be licensed through the Department of Health (a residential care or mental health business) or Department of Early Learning (a child care business).
A good place to start is the Washington Business Licensing Guide. Its series of questions will generate the list of permits and licenses you may be required to get for your specific type of business.