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Idaho Small Business Solutions - Employer Issues
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State of Idaho Web Site

 


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out what I need to do to legally operate a business in Idaho?

First, go through the Business Wizard on this site. You will be asked five questions about your business and then provided with a checklist of agencies to contact, the reason to contact them, and a link to each agency's website. If you don't find your particular industry listed, you should still complete the Wizard and answer the questions about employees.

Also visit the Legal Structure/DBAs section of this site for help in choosing and registering a business entity form and registering your business name.

You should also call your local city clerk's office to find out if you need a business license. Some communities license only a few business activities; others license all businesses. You will find a list of city clerks offices at city clerks.

 

I don’t know where to start. I have never been in business before. Who can help me?

Click on the Business Assistance button to the left. Under Business Formation and Expansion you will see links to the Idaho Small Business Development Center, Women's Business Center and SCORE, all of whom work with start-ups. Click on the link for each organization to find a location near you, then make an appointment for a free consulting session.

 

I have heard I need to follow numerous regulations if I have employees. How do I cover all my bases?

First, click on the Employer Issues button to the left and review the information there. Then, click on the Employee or Independent Contractor button on that page and review the information. You can have legal problems if you wrongly classify a worker.

Next, go through the Business Wizard and under Question 3 select either "Employees" or "Both" (Employees and Independent Contractors). The resulting Checklist will provide contact information for the agencies that regulate employment issues. Contact them to learn what you must do to comply with their requirements.

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What kind of licenses do I need to be able to do business in Idaho?

It depends on your type of business; there are different types of licenses and not all business activities need a special license. To find out if your business needs one (or more), click on the Licenses button to the left and review the information there. Then, go through the Business Wizard, and in Section 2, check all the items that may apply to your business. After completing the Wizard you will receive a Checklist indicating which agencies license each activity. If your business's primary activity does not appear in Section 2, then you may not need a special license. However, depending on your business, you may still be licensed at the local (city and county), and/or federal level. Your employees may also need individual occupational licenses.

Many Idaho cities require some or all businesses to obtain a city business license. To find out if you need one, call your local city clerk's office. A list of city clerk's offices with contact information is found at City_Clerks.htm. If your business will be located outside the city limits, contact your county clerk or recorder's office to find out if you need a county business license.

If you plan to sell a product or offer certain types of services, you may need a sales and Use tax permit, also called a reseller's permit. Visit the Taxes section of this site for information.

If you plan to have a home-based business, visit the Hot Topics section of this website to find out what additional licenses or permits you may need and other special requirements that may affect your business. Also choose "Home Business" in addition to your business activity when you complete the Business Wizard.

 

How do I find out if another business is already using the name I want to use?

You can make a Business Entity Search on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website at http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html?SearchFormstep=crit. After entering the name you want to use, the site will indicate if it is already in use in Idaho. Also  check for similar names spelled differently or containing a slight variation, such as Shoppe or Centre, and do an Internet search to find regional or national companies using the same or a similar name. You may want to avoid choosing a name similar to an existing business. Your business could be confused with the other business and that may not be in your best interests.

Once you decide on a name, print the Assumed Business Name (also called a DBA) form from the Idaho Secretary of State's website and mail it with payment.

If your business will be registered as a corporation or an LLC, you must choose a unique name not currently in use in Idaho.

For information on protecting your business name, see Trademarks, Service Marks on the Hot Topics page on this site. Also visit the Legal Structure/DBAs section of this website for more information on choosing and registering a business name and entity type.

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How do I obtain a permit to make retail sales in Idaho?

To make retail sales in Idaho, you need an Idaho sales tax permit, obtained by completing form IBR-1, Idaho Business Registration Application, found at https://labor.idaho.gov/ibrs/ibr.aspx.  

If you will sell your products for only a short time, such as at a festival or trade show, a temporary sales tax permit can be printed at http://tax.idaho.gov/i-1033.cfm.

Businesses offering items for rent, such as construction or yard/lawn equipment, tables, chairs, tents and similar items,  also need a sales tax permit. Sales tax is also charged on admission to special events and on certain sports activities, such as golf and bowling.

 

How do I know whether to set up a Sole Proprietorship, a Partnership, Corporation, or an LLC? How do I change from one to the other?

The Legal Structure/DBAs page on this site contains a description of each entity type recognized in Idaho. Because your entity choice will affect your taxes and when you make payments, you may want to consult an accountant and/or an attorney to be certain you have selected the best entity type for your business. 

You might also contact your nearest Idaho Small Business Development Center, Women's Business Center or your regional SCORE office, all listed under Business Formation and Expansion on the Business Assistance button to the left. A counselor can help you choose the best one for your business.

Once you have decided on an entity type, you can download the necessary forms from the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.idaho.gov/corp/corindex.htm. If you choose to register as anything other than a sole proprietorship, an attorney will need to prepare the required Operating Agreement, Articles of Incorporation, by-laws, or partnership agreement, all of which must comply with Idaho law.

To change from one business entity type to another, check the information found on the Legal Structure/DBAs section of this site. You may need the assistance of an attorney and an accountant to properly close your existing entity type, pay any taxes owed, change employee withholding accounts and file the paperwork for the new entity type.

To change the name or status of a corporation, Articles of Amendment must be filed. Information is available on the Secretary of State’s website.

When you change entity types, your tax reporting requirements may change and you may need to file a final tax return for your old entity type. Contact the Internal Revenue Service, Idaho State Tax Commission and the Idaho Department of Labor if you have employees and are required to withhold unemployment taxes. Information is available on the Legal Structure/DBA section of this website at http://www.idahobizhelp.org/legal_ent.htm.

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I am thinking of giving up my business. How do I make that decision? What do I need to do to close the business?

To close the business, several agencies need to be contacted to cancel permits and licenses, file a final tax return and more. Begin by clicking on the Business Assistance button to the left where you will find a list of agencies under Business Sale/Dissolution, including the Idaho Small Business Development Center, Women's Business Center and SCORE. Contact the nearest office for a free consultation. A counselor can help you make the decision to continue in business or call it quits and he/she can guide you through the process.

 

I am having trouble competing with big box stores and major suppliers. Where can I get help?

Click on the Business Assistance button to the left. Under Consulting/Counseling, you will see the Idaho Small Business Development Center, SCORE and the Women's Business Center. Contact the nearest office to make an appointment for a consulting session.

 

What is a vendor’s license and where do I get it? 

Businesses that engage in temporary retail sales or solicitation of sales for future delivery, including selling door-to-door or at festivals, events, and trade shows, may need a vendor’s permit or a temporary vendor’s permit, sometimes called a solicitor’s permit. For information, contact the City Clerk’s office in the city where you will be doing business.

If you are engaged in door-to-door sales, you and each of your employees may need to obtain a permit in every city where you work. Each of you will need a background check before the permit is issued and you may have to post a bond. You and each of your employees must wear your permits in a visible location on your clothing where it can be clearly seen by the person being solicited.

In addition to a vendor's license, you will also need an Idaho sales tax permit or a temporary sales tax permit. A permanent permit can be obtained by completing form IBR-1 found at https://labor.idaho.gov/ibrs/ibr.aspx. A temporary sales tax permit for one specific event lasting less than 90 days can be printed at http://tax.idaho.gov/i-1033.cfm

 

How do I register to sell to the government or become a preferred vendor?

To sell to either the state or federal government, businesses must first register to become a government contractor. See Government Contracting/Procurement on the Hot Topics section of this site for information.

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Where can I get a DBA (also called an Assumed Business Name)?

Visit the Legal Structure/DBAs page on this website or visit the Idaho Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.Idaho.gov/corp/corindex.htm.

Before registering a name, you can search the Secretary of State's on-line database at http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html?ScriptForm.startstep=crit to find out if another business is already using the name you want or a similar name.

 

Can I advertise on this site or put a link on this site?

Any state or federal government agency or non-profit organization can be represented on this site if they license or regulate business activities or offer business-related services. Local agencies, such as city and county clerks' offices, are not represented individually, because there are so many and their requirements vary. There is no cost to be listed on the website. This is not a commercial site, so no advertising is accepted. 

If your organization fits the above criteria and you want to be listed on the site, send us a message via E-mail, then we will review your site for possible inclusion. Please do not place a link on your site and then expect us to provide a reciprocal link.

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What forms do I need to file to start a business?

It depends on the type of business you want to start. Some types of businesses are more heavily regulated than others. First, answer the questions on the Business Wizard on this site. The resulting Checklist will indicate the forms you need to file and the agencies with whom you need to file them. Also visit the Legal Structure/DBAs page on this site for information about registering your business entity form and your business name.

 

What loans and grants are available for starting a business?

Grants are generally not available if you want to start a typical for-profit business. The few available programs are primarily for businesses engaged in developing new technology, using natural resources in an innovative way or creating jobs. Most grant programs are highly competitive and the requirements are stringent. For more information, see Grants on the Hot Topics section of this site. 

For loan information, do a search on the Resource Wizard to find banks in your area and special loan programs. Also check Loans on the Hot Topics section of this site. You can also contact your banker or your nearest Idaho Small Business Development Center, Women's Business Center or SCORE office for information about loan programs that may fit your business.  

 

What do I need to know about tax reporting for a new business?

The State Tax Commission, http://tax.idaho.gov and the Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov, are the primary taxing authorities. If you have employees, you will need to pay Unemployment Tax (sometimes called unemployment insurance). Other taxes, such as sales tax, may also apply, depending on the nature of your business.

The best way to find out what taxes you may need to pay is to complete a search of the Business Wizard. The resulting checklist will include taxes and other required reports and the agencies to contact.

Also visit the Taxes section of this website for information on specific types of taxes that may apply to your business activity and the agencies that collect them.

 

How do I make a business plan?

Check the section on Business Plans under the Links section of this site. You will find links to sample plans and instructions for writing your own plan. Information is also available on the Idaho Small Business Development Center's website at http://www.idahosbdc.org/business-essentials/business-planning/.

If you need assistance in preparing your plan, contact your nearest Idaho Small Business Development Center, SCORE, Women's Business Center or Small Business Administration office listed under Business Assistance, Business Plans on this site.

 

Who do I talk to about making a financial success of my business?

Make an appointment with a counselor at the Idaho Small Business Development Center, Women's Business Center or SCORE listed under Business Assistance, Consulting/Counseling on this site. Their services are free. Also talk with your accountant and your banker to learn about strategies you may be able to implement.

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I couldn’t find my business on the Wizard, so I didn’t go through it.

That only means you don’t need a special license or permit. You still need to go through the Business Wizard to find out what tax reports and other forms are required for your business and to learn about your responsibilities if you have employees or independent contractors.

 

I have an out-of-state business and plan to do business in Idaho.  How can I get information regarding Idaho regulations?

Out-of-state businesses may be subject to the same regulations as businesses located in Idaho. Click on Business Wizard on the menu to the left to obtain a customized check-list of agencies from which you may need to obtain licenses or permits. 

Also contact the Secretary of State's office to find out if you need to register your business in Idaho as a foreign corporation or LLC, the Idaho State Tax Commission to find out about taxes you may need to pay, and the Idaho Industrial Commission if you have employees or independent contractors who will be working in Idaho.

 

My bank says I need a business tax number or a personal tax number to open a business checking account. What do they mean and how do I get one?

They probably mean the Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number) or your Social Security Number (SSN), sometimes called Tax ID Numbers. If you are a Sole Proprietor with no employees and you don't make retail sales, you may be able to use your SSN. If you are unable to use your SSN, you will need to obtain a Federal EIN.

In addition to your bank, most government agencies and corporations with whom you do business will require you to have an EIN even if you are a sole proprietor with no employees. For security reasons, they no longer accept Social Security numbers as business identification numbers.

To apply for a Federal EIN, complete IRS form SS-4 found at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online. There is no charge and the process is quick and easy. You can apply by phone, fax, or mail.

 

Where can I find out about paying overtime?

Visit the U.S. Department of Labor's website at http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/overtimepay.htm. For other important information about having employees, click on the Employer Issues button to the left or visit the Idaho Department of Labor's website at http://labor.idaho.gov.

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What is a Health Insurance Identification Number and how do I get one?

If your business offers health insurance to employees, you will need a National Standard Employer Identification number to report claims electronically. To learn more about this topic, visit http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/HIPAA-Administrative-Simplification/EmployerIdentifierStand/index.html. Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) serves as your insurance reporting number.

  

How do I obtain a UPC code for the product I plan to sell?

Visit the website of GS1 US BarCodes and eCom, formerly known as Universal Packaging Codes, at http://www.gs1us.org/.  



I want to change the name of my business. Who do I contact?

To change an assumed business name, notify the Idaho Secretary of State's Office using the form found at http://www.sos.idaho.gov/corp/ABNform.htm. To change the name of a corporation or LLC, contact the Secretary of State's office for information.

You also need to notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), State Tax Commission, and Idaho Department of Labor to be certain your taxes and other reports continue to be processed correctly. You may also need to obtain a new EIN, Employer Identification Number.  For information, visit http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Business-Name-Change.  

You will also need to notify any state or local agency from whom you have obtained a permit or license or with whom you file reports on a regular basis.



My product is made in the U.S., a rarity today. Do I need to do something to be able to advertise it as U.S. made? 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates advertising that promotes products as made in the U.S.A. You can find information at http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus03-complying-made-usa-standard.



How can I have my product certified as organic or "green?"

The Idaho Department of Agriculture certifies organic farms and food products grown in Idaho. They also certify organic soil amendments (fertilizer) made in Idaho. For information, visit www.agri.idaho.gov/Categories/PlantsInsects/Organic/indexOrganicHome.php

The U. S. Department of Agriculture administers the National Organic Program for production, handling, and labeling of agricultural products, including meat, poultry, seafood, and alcoholic beverages. For information, see http://www.ams.usda.gov/.

To certify a non-food product, contact Green Seal at http://www.greenseal.org/. Energy efficient appliances and products are certified by the U.S. Government's Energy Star Program. Also check the information about "Green Certification" found on the Hot Topics page of this site.

 

I want to sell my cookies and pies at our farmer's market but they won't let me unless I have a commercial kitchen. What is that and how do I make my home kitchen into a commercial one?

Commercial kitchens are inspected and licensed by your local health department. Unfortunately, you cannot make your home kitchen into a commercial one. A commercial kitchen must be located in a separate area away from your home kitchen with a separate entrance and locking door and it cannot be used to prepare your family's meals. It must contain specific appliances, shelving, stainless steel counter tops, and special sinks, all of which can be expensive to implement. 

Many churches and senior citizens centers have commercial kitchens and may be willing to rent space to you. Also check with caterers and with restaurants that serve only breakfast and lunch to see if you can rent space in the evening. With some searching, there is a way to make your business possible.

 

What is TERO? My company wants to bid on a project on the Ft. Hall Reservation but they say we must have a TERO permit.

TERO is an acronym for Tribal Employment Registration Office. To perform work on most reservations your company must employ Native American workers. You can obtain information and the necessary form by contacting the tribal office of any reservation where you plan to work.

 

The company I am currently working for wants me to give them a W-9. What is it and why do I need to do this?

A form W-9 is a "Request for Taxpayer Identification Number."  When a business pays $600 or more in a calendar year to another business or individual who is not an employee, the business is required to file an information tax return with the IRS. To do so, the business must obtain the correct taxpayer identification number to include on the report.

Examples of businesses that require a W-9 include those that issue 1099s (such as to independent contractors) and those that must report real estate transactions, contributions to an IRA, cancellation of debt, payments to a childcare provider and other monetary transactions. See IRS form W-9.


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