Ohio Tax ID (EIN) Number & Business Registration
Ohio is one of the most rapidly growing centers for small business development, with a 2015 growth rate of 2.3%, significantly greater than the national average of 1.9%, as well as falling unemployment. But what makes this Midwestern state so popular with entrepreneurs? The simple answer is that the Ohio state and municipal governments provide a range of supports and inducements that encourage people to form a business in Ohio and that make the region ideal for small businesses. These include the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) as well as Cleveland’s Municipal Small Business Initiative.
Though Ohio is rarely seen as a thriving, urban environment, the state has the 7th largest population in the nation, despite ranking 34th in area. And because that population is distributed across several medium-sized cities, with six cities of over 100,000 people, opportunities abound. Small businesses have the chance to design around their communities and meet local needs.
Steps for obtaining an Ohio Tax ID & Business Registration:
- Legal Formation of your Ohio Business
- Obtain your Federal Tax ID (EIN) Number
- Ohio State Tax ID Number
- Ohio Licenses & Permits
As with most states, Ohio allows entrepreneurs to form many different types of businesses. For small businesses, though, one of the most popular formats is a limited liability companies or LLC. It’s easy to register an Ohio LLC and also affordable.
LLCs are structurally similar to sole proprietorships except that they can have multiple owners, and they are carefully structured to protect owners from excessive business debts. They are, unfortunately, treated as a form of self-employment, which means that owners are subject to self-employment taxes rather than standard withholdings. The most important thing LLCs provide for owners, though, is that the process of incorporating as an LLC can help small businesses build credibility with clients.
Another type of small business you can form in Ohio is a partnership. Structurally, partnerships may be the easiest form to develop, but these can be risky. Partnerships lack significant legal protections and owners are responsible for all debts. There is also a variation on the partnership model called a limited partnership in which there is one general proprietor - who, again, is responsible for all debts, as well as a limited partner who is primarily an investor in the business.
The most complex form of business structure is a C corporation, which is also the most common model nationally. C corporations are so appealing because they allow for the greatest amount of growth; as they expand, C corporations can issue stock to investors. Even among smaller businesses, most companies that have actual employees, rather than just freelancers or contractors, are C Corps.
Regardless of how you choose to incorporate your business, you will need a federal tax ID or EIN, short for employer identification number. That’s because EINs are used for several key purposes, including applying for business licenses, opening a bank account, and of course, filing taxes. C corps and other businesses that have employees also need an EIN so that their employees can identify the business on their taxes. All you really need to get an EIN is your individual taxpayer ID.
Having an EIN is highly beneficial, and not just because it’s key to business operations. Once you have it, your EIN can help protect against identity theft. As a business owner, you’ll often have a choice between providing contractors or service providers with either your SSN or EIN. With your SSN, others can file fraudulent tax returns, but with your EIN they don’t have that ability.
Finally, EINs are beneficial even for those who are independent contractors. That’s because when you receive payments for services rendered as a contractor, you can face double taxation on the funds. If you’re an LLC or other incorporated sole proprietorship, you don’t face that problem. That can make your work much more profitable, compared to functioning exclusively through 1099s.
Many states use your EIN for all taxes, but Ohio has a different policy. Rather, in Ohio, all businesses need a separate Ohio tax ID number. This number is used to file in-state taxes, as well as to determine any municipal or state-specific tax responsibilities.
One important function of your Ohio tax ID number is that it’s used to file your commercial activity tax (CAT). The CAT is an older tax model that was recently reintroduced in Ohio, and is an additional tax on receipts over $1 million There are also tiered minimum business taxes for businesses with in-state receipts of $150,000 or more, though the minimum is comparatively negligible at $150 and no CAT liability.
Many Ohio municipalities also have specific business taxes, so you’ll need your Ohio EIN number to file those particular payments. Businesses in Dublin and Columbus, for example, need to file specific city taxes. Hotels and motels in Ohio also pay a special occupancy tax at filing, based on those charged to hotel patrons.
Finally, businesses that sell alcohol, tobacco, and gasoline products have to pay state excise taxes in Ohio. Like the hotel and motel taxes, these are also charged directly to consumers, but it’s the business’s responsibility to set those aside for tax time.
Finally, in order to register a business in Ohio, you’ll need all the proper licenses and permits, and the process can get very detailed. Indeed, on the licensing level, there are numerous different agencies that you’ll work with depending on your field, ranging from the health department to commerce and the accountancy board. A restaurant, for example, would get its liquor license from commerce but their food safety license from agriculture. When starting a business, it can help to talk to other Ohioans in the field to learn the intricacies of the process.
As with local taxes, you’ll also need municipality-specific licenses and permits when starting a business in Ohio. For example, Cincinnati has many specific licenses, including for billiards and pool, motor vehicle salvage, theaters, and even antique shops. Licensing doesn’t stop at the state level. It’s important to check both city and municipal websites or consult the Ohio Department of Commerce. Your local chamber of commerce can also help you and is a valuable resource for those who want to work with fellow entrepreneurs.
Starting a business in Ohio is an exciting process, but it’s not easy, and you can’t rush it. Take your time with each step – whether you’re filing your articles of incorporation or doing your taxes – it’s all about dotting your Is and crossing your Ts so there isn’t any trouble down the road.