City of Saginaw MI -
Checklist for Starting a Business

1 Determine your business' legal structure:

Contact an attorney, accountant, or the MI-SBTDC at 989-696-9597 for assistance in determining the appropriate business structure. You may also review the Types of Business Entities summary.


2 Register your business name:

Contact the Michigan Corporation and Securities Bureau 517-241-6470 or www.michigan.gov/corporations, and the County Clerk's office in all counties in which your business will operate to determine if the name you wish to use is available. An individual doing business as a sole proprietorship using a name other than his or her own name must file with the County Clerk the name under which the person will do business, commonly referred to as DBA, "doing business as". A general partnership must file a certificate of co-partnership with the County Clerk. Register the name of sole proprietorships and general partnerships at the County Clerk's Office. Register the name of corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships at the Michigan Corporation and Securities Bureau.


3 Obtain any special licenses that may be required:

Michigan does not have a general business license. Some occupations, professions and business activities require certification or licensing. You may access the licensing and certification information on-line at www.michgian.org/medc/services/license/. State permit information can be found at www.michigan.gov/mitaps (Michigan Timely Application and Permit Service). Check with the county, city, or township clerk to determine if any local licenses, permits, or registrations are required. If doing business in the City of Saginaw, all businesses are required to have a City business license. Contact the City Clerk's office for application.


4 Register for a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN):

Generally, an EIN is required by the IRS if:

  1. The business will have employees; and/or
  2. The business operates as a corporation or partnership.

If operating the business as a sole proprietorship and you answered no to the above questions, there is no need for an EIN number at this time. Taxes are reported by using your Social Security number. You may apply for an EIN either by faxing your SS-4 (Application for Federal Identification Number - EIN) to 859-669-5760 or by calling 800-829-4933. For more information, visit the IRS online at www.irs.gov.


5 Decide whether your business will hire employees:

If your business will hire employees, you should be aware of several additional requirements for employers. A separate list of employers' responsibilities is available. See "Information for Employers".


6 Arrange for registration and payment of federal taxes:

All businesses are required to pay taxes to the federal government. The type of business determines which taxes are paid and when they are do. For more information, visit the IRS online at www.irs.gov. If you have questions about determining your federal tax liability or your payment schedule, contact the IRS at 800-829-4933.


7 Register with the Michigan Department of Treasury for payment of state taxes:

Depending on the type of business conducted, whether or not there are employees, the amount of gross receipts, selling or leasing a product, etc., the business may be required to pay Michigan taxes. To determine your liability and to register for Michigan taxes, a Registration for Michigan Taxes Form 518 is required to be completed and returned to the Michigan Department of Treasury. For more information contact the Michigan Department of Treasury at 800-367-6263 or www.michigan.gov/treasury.


8 Ensure that your business will meet all air, water, and sold waste standards:

To ensure that the business meets all of the environmental regulations that apply to a specific type of business, contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at 800-662-9278 or access the environmental permit online at www.michigan.gov/deq.


9 Are you purchasing an existing business? Be aware of hidden liabilities:

As the purchaser of even a portion of a business, you may be responsible for the previous owner's liabilities, regardless of any contractual language to the contrary. As the purchaser of the business, make sure that the seller of the business provides proof that there are no hidden liabilities. The seller of the business should contact the Michigan Department of Treasury at 517-636-5260 or online at www.michigan.gov/taxes to obtain Form 514 to request a Conditional Tax Clearance Release letter.

Make sure the location you have chosen is zoned appropriately for the type of business: Make sure the location that has been chosen is zoned appropriately for your type of business and that all state and local building codes and barrier free design rules are met. If business will be in the City of Saginaw, contact the City Zoning Department at 989-759-1303 and the City Inspections Department at 989-759-1421 for more information.


10 Make sure the business is adequately insured:

Contact an insurance agent to determine the types of insurance the business should purchase. Shop around. Insurance rates and types of coverage vary greatly among insurance carriers. Workers' compensation insurance is required if the employer regularly employs three or more workers, of if at least one worker is employed for 35 hours or more per week for 13 weeks or longer.


Contact the MI-SBTDC for more additional information or questions about starting a business at 989-696-9597.

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