Filing a Sole Proprietorship in Steuben County, New York

by Joe Stone

The easiest form of business to start is a sole proprietorship. In this type of entity, you are individually responsible for the business, rather than forming a separate legal entity such as a limited liability company or corporation. Despite its simplicity, even a sole proprietor must comply with basic business filings at the local and state level. In Steuben County, New York, every sole proprietor must register a fictitious name used in his business with the county clerk and, depending on the type of business, additional filings may be required by the clerk or the state.

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Steuben County Business Certificate

The Steuben County Clerk handles several business-related matters, one of which is keeping records of sole proprietorships in the county operating under fictitious or assumed names. An assumed name is also called a DBA, which is an acronym for "doing business as." All sole proprietorships using DBAs must file a “Business Certificate” form with the county clerk. The form requires identifying information for the business, such as the assumed business name and address; the owner's name; the name of any prior owner of the business; and a statement of whether the owner is over 18 years of age. The certificate must be signed and notarized. The county clerk provides a similar form called "Certificate of Discontinuance of Business" that must be filed when the sole proprietor sells or otherwise ceases to operate the business.

Certificate of Authority

Once a sole proprietorship has filed with the Steuben County clerk, additional filings may be required by the state. A common filing for most businesses is an application for a Certificate of Authority, which is required for any business that engages in taxable sales. The application is filed with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The penalty for engaging in business without a valid Certificate of Authority can be as high as $10,000.

Employer Issues

A sole proprietorship that hires employees must file for an Employment Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. The EIN is obtained by filing Form SS-4. In addition, New York state law requires all employers to register with the State Department of Labor to facilitate unemployment insurance, tax withholding and wage reporting. The state operates a website called Online Permit Assistance and Licensing, or OPAL, which allows employers to register online.

Veterans Peddlers License

If a sole proprietor's business involves selling goods along the street or highway and the business owner is an honorably discharged veteran from any of the U.S. armed services, he can file for a Veteran’s Peddlers License with the Steuben County Clerk. The clerk's office must be contacted directly for specific license requirements, but generally, each county in New York issues the license free of charge to veterans residing in the county. Evidence of military discharge and residency will be required.