Florida Business Resource
LICENSES, PERMITS & REGISTRATION
1) Florida Tax Registration
Small businesses in the state of Florida must register for identification numbers, permits or licenses for the taxes that correspond with their specific services. For example, many businesses are responsible for sales and use tax, unemployment tax and corporate income tax. However, additional taxes, such as communications services tax, fuel tax, documentary stamp tax, pollutants tax and solid waste fees and surcharge may also apply depending on the nature of your business. Visit the Florida Department of Revenue website for general information or registration forms.
2) Business Licenses
The state of Florida requests that businesses and occupations acquire permits or licenses in order to operate. The type and cost of a permit or license will vary according to the location of the business and the nature of its services. For example, investment advisers, brokers and dealers should secure professional licenses. A lack of the required license or permit may lead to fines or the closure of the business. For more information, visit Florida’s business licenses, permits and regulation page.
3) Local Permits
The local government in your area, such as that of your city or county, may require specific permits and licenses. Each municipality may have its own unique regulations. Here are some of the most common licenses and permits you may need.
- Alarm Permit
- Building Permit
- Business License and/or Tax Permit
- Health Permit
- Occupational Permit
- Signage Permit
- Zoning Permit
4 ) Incorporation Filing
In Florida, businesses that fall under the following categories must register with the Florida Division of Corporations:
- Limited liability companies (LLC)
Instructions and electronic applications for filing with the Florida Division of Corporations can be found on the state agency’s official site.
If your business is a sole proprietorship, you can skip the registration process; however, you must then use your personal name as the business’s name. If you do not want your personal name to serve as the business’s name, you must register for a fictitious name with the Florida Division of Corporations.
5) Doing Business As
By filing a fictitious name, or “Doing Business As,” you can provide your business with a name that stands apart from your personal name or the registered name of your corporation or partnership. The Florida Division of Corporations offers an online fictitious name registration service.
6) Withholding Taxes
After completing the filing process for the 4th quarter of the year, employers should retain records of employment taxes for at least the next four years. The list of items to keep on record include your employer identification number, personal data of employees, information on tax deposits and information on wage, annuity and pension payments. Visit the IRS’s page on employment tax recordkeeping for additional items to include in your records.
By maintaining clear and accurate records, you will be able to:
- Track your business’s growth over time
- Determine and monitor deductible expenses
- Track receipt sources
- Prepare and support tax return items
W-4 and W-2 Forms
Before employment begins, employees must give the employer a signed Form W-4, which is the withholding exemption certificate. Afterward, the employer should pass the Form W-4 along to the IRS.
In addition, employers must maintain information regarding the withheld taxes and paid wages of each employee. Tax and wage information concerning the previous year must be submitted to the federal government via the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, every year. Copy A of the Form W-2 should go to the Social Security Administration. Due dates are the last day of February, if by mail, and the last day of March, if you are filing an electronic submission. Copies of the Form W-2 should go to each employee by January 31st of the following year. Keep all undelivered copies in your records.
The following links can aid you in filing your required forms:
- The Social Security Administration’s Employer W-2 Filing Instructions and Information page
- The Internal Revenue Service’s Employer Tax Guide
7) Employee Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)
New employees should fill out Form I-9, which serves as proof of eligibility to work in the United States. This form should be completed within three days of the beginning of employment. The employer must keep a form on file for each employee, whether they are citizens or non-citizens.
The form can be downloaded from the official site of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
8) New Hire Reporting
It is the employer’s responsibility to provide information regarding new employers, such as names, addresses and social security numbers, to Florida’s Directory of New Hires within 20 days of employment. You can report new employers at the official site of the Florida New Hire Reporting Center.
9) Insurance Requirements
If your Florida-based business requires employees, you must pay unemployment compensation tax. These funds go to the UC Trust Fund, which provides partial support for workers who are willing and able to work, but lack jobs. You can find more information on Florida’s Department of Revenue’s unemployment tax page.
In addition to unemployment tax, businesses with employees are also responsible for worker’s compensation insurance, which aids workers who are injured on the job. This insurance is available through the Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association or insurance agents representing commercial services. You can also choose to operate on a self-insured method. The website of the Florida Department of Financial Services offers information on worker’s compensation insurance.