Guide to Setting Up a Sole Proprietorship in Florida

By Terry Masters

A sole proprietorship operates as an alter ego of the business owner who runs it. Since the owner is personally responsible for business affairs, Florida does not require a separate state-level registration for the business as long as you operate it under your own name. If you want to run the business under a different name, you must register it with the state. Depending upon the type of business you are conducting and where you are located, you may also have to obtain local licenses and permits to before you can open for business.

Step 1

Register an assumed business name. Under Florida law, a sole proprietor must use his own name to transact business. If you want to use a different name for your business, you must register an assumed business name -- also known as a "doing business as" or DBA -- with the Division of Corporations of the Florida Department of State. You can check the availability of a DBA and register it electronically by using the Division of Corporations website.

Step 2

Register with state and federal tax agencies if you hire employees or collect sales taxes. Register with the Florida Department of Revenue for the payment of state taxes and the Internal Revenue Service for federal taxes by visiting each agency's website. Both agencies allow businesses to register online. Even if you don't anticipate paying business taxes, you should consider registering your business with the IRS by obtaining an Employer Identification Number. Although an EIN is not mandatory for a sole proprietorship, many Florida agencies use a company's EIN as its unique identifier.

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Step 3

Obtain statewide professional and occupational licenses if your line of work requires it. Legal and medical professionals must fulfill state licensing requirements before setting up shop, for example. Check with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service to see if your business needs a state license to operate.

Step 4

Apply for a local business tax receipt if required. This is Florida's version of a local business license. Whether or not you need one depends on where your business is located. For example, if your business is located in the unincorporated section of Miami-Dade County, you will need to obtain a county receipt. If your business is located in a Miami-Dade County municipality, you are also required to obtain a municipal/city business tax receipt.

Step 5

Obtain local operational licenses and permits. Depending on the type of business you plan to operate and where it will be located, you may need to comply with various local regulations. For example, you may need a local occupancy permit to open a storefront, a health permit to prepare food or a liquor license to sell alcohol. (Refs. 1, 5)

Step 6

File a New Hire Reporting Form with the Florida New Hire Reporting Center for every full- or part-time employee you hire. If you have four or more employees, the state also requires you to obtain workers' compensation insurance.

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