CPA / tax jockey needed

To get my small business (sole proprietorship) off the ground and…er, buzzing. Or just provide good answers to a few home-business tax questions. Anyone? …Bueller?

* * *

I spoke to a lawyer yesterday (relax, not due to an unsolicited FedEx…this time ;) about starting that shindig up using a “least-cost least-risk” approach. (I’m not a gambling man, not even with 96 silver bullets on their way to my doorstep, so I’m not incorporating and all that expensive, complex jazz.) Mostly, I was looking to find out the recommended approach to dealing with a SO/HO in regards to the Tax Man, the Zoning Board and other legal ne’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, he wasn’t really able to tell me much aside from “get thee a CPA and ask them”, so that’s the next step. On the bright side, he was able to tell me that if I’m not running a manufacturing facility or brick-and-mortar shop with foot traffic (only online sales), zoning won’t be an issue in a single family home. (Although the same could apply to an apartment/condo too, many rental agreements forbid use of the space for commercial activities.)

It sounds like the most basic approach is to start as a sole proprietorship, will not need an EIN (no employees*), and might be almost as simple as filing a Schedule C / C-EZ profit/loss form with my tax return. There is also a free (beer) version of QuickBooks suitable for microbiz accounting purposes. Catch: To sell stuff under anything other than my own legal name (without having my name legally changed to “Drmn4ea Tech.”), I’ll have to file a DBA (Doing Business As, or Business Certificate) form with the city, for which they “strongly recommend” having your approval from the Inspector of Buildings handy. (The who now?) Per the advice I received, this (zoning stuff) “shouldn’t” be an issue (although in practice, I don’t know of any municipality that can smell pie without lining up for their own cut).

* as much as any of my friends might like to be a full-time, paid part of this balanced breakfast, having employees opens a big huge can o’ tax ID, federal income withholding, health insurance and potentially even OSHA worms.

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