How to Start a Business in Maine – Free Checklist

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How to Start a Business in Maine:

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How to Start a Business in Maine:

Maine offers four primary ways to form a business. Depending on the business structure you choose, you may have to register with the state. Unlike some states, Maine does not have a general business license requirement at the state level. In Maine, general licenses are handled at the city and town level. While there are some online filing services available to businesses, most filings must be submitted by mail, fax, or in-person.

1. 

Form your business.

1.1 

Review Maine formation options.

Review Maine formation options.

Maine offers 4 ways of forming your business. Review these closely and pick the one that fits your business best.

1.2 

Name your business.

Name your business.

Before you can reserve or register a business name, you need to ensure that it is not already on file with the Maine Secretary of State (SOS) and will not infringe on another business's name. To check name availability, visit the SOS website and perform a corporate entity name search. You should also do a Google search to find out if any business is using the name and search the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark database to see if the name or a similar version has already been registered.

By filing an Application for Reservation of Name online with the Maine SOS, you can reserve an available business name for 120 days. If you wish to file offline, you can download the form and mail it to the SOS. Mailing information is available on the form. There is a $20.00 filing fee included.

If you want to operate your business under an assumed name (a name that differs from the legal name of the business), you must file a DBA. While Maine law does not require sole proprietorships and partnerships to file trade names at state level, it does require them to file with their local municipal clerks. To protect your trade name, you must file a trade or service mark with the Division of Corporations.

Legal entities can register a trade name or DBA by filing an assumed name form with the Division of Corporations. The filing fee for an assumed name is $125.00.

If you need help finding a business name, be sure to check out NameSnack's free business name generator.

1.3 

Get an employer identification number.

Get an employer identification number.

Nearly all businesses will need to register for federal taxes by applying for an employer identification number.

1.4 

Register your business in Maine.

Register your business in Maine.

How you register your business in Maine depends on the type of business structure you have selected. If you choose to form your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you do not have to register your business with the state, although you must still comply with applicable state, city, and town permits or licenses.

Legal business entities, including limited liability companies and corporations, must be registered with the Bureau of Corporations at the office of the Maine Secretary of State. You can download the relevant application forms from the Maine SOS website. You can complete the form on-screen and then print it out or print the form first and then fill it out by hand. Mail the completed forms along with the relevant filing fee to the Maine SOS Division of Corporations. There is no online filing option.

1.5 

Obtain necessary permits and licenses.

Obtain necessary permits and licenses.

The state of Maine does not license all businesses. General licenses are handled at the town or city level. To find out what licenses your business needs, contact the city office where your business is located for more details. You can find contact information for town offices through the Maine.gov local government section.

You may need special licenses or permits to operate depending on the activities of your business. Restaurants, for example, require a Health and Human Services license to operate their business in Maine. Visit Maine’s online Business Answers service, an initiative by the Department of Economic and Community Development, to search for licenses and permits that your business may need.

2. 

Register your business for taxes.

2.1 

Register for tax with Maine Revenue Services.

Register for tax with Maine Revenue Services.

To register for new sales and use tax, service provider tax, and income tax withholding accounts with Maine Revenue Services, either complete and mail a paper application or register online.

To register for any other tax accounts, you will have to obtain the relevant application forms from the Maine Revenue Services website and mail a completed paper application as these cannot be applied for online.

To register online, visit Maine Revenue Services online services page.

Select the type of accounts you wish to register and click “Go.”

Complete the online application form with the required information, selecting “Save & Continue” at the bottom of the page as you complete each section.

Submit the application.

Certificates for sales and service provider tax registrations and a confirmation letter for income tax withholding and use tax registrations will be mailed to you within 20 days of the application.

2.2 

Register for sales and use tax.

Register for sales and use tax.

If your business sells tangible personal property in Maine, you must register for sales and use tax with Maine Revenue Services.

To register for sales and use tax, obtain an application form and mail the completed application to the address provided on the form. There is no filing fee.

Alternatively, apply online as outlined in the previous step.

2.3 

Register for income tax withholding.

Register for income tax withholding.

Maine income tax laws require employers to withhold state income tax from the wages of their employees at each pay period. To register for income tax withholding, obtain an application form and mail the completed application to the address provided on the form. There is no filing fee.

Alternatively, apply online as outlined above.

2.4 

Register for service provider tax.

Register for service provider tax.

While most services are not subject to state and local sales tax in Maine, they may be subject to service provider tax.

Services subject to service provider tax include:

  • Ancillary Services
  • Rental of video media and video equipment.
  • Rental of furniture, audio media, and equipment.
  • Telecommunications services.
  • Installation, maintenance, or repair of telecommunications equipment.
  • Extended cable and satellite television services.
  • Fabrication services.
  • Community support services.
  • Home support services.
  • Private non-medical institution service.

To find out more, visit the Maine Revenue Services webpage or contact them directly.

To register for service provider tax, obtain an application form and mail the completed application to the address provided on the form. There is no filing fee.

Alternatively, apply online as outlined above.

2.5 

Register for unemployment insurance tax.

Register for unemployment insurance tax.

If your business in Maine has employees, you will need to register for unemployment insurance tax with the Maine Department of Labor. To register online, visit the webpage of the Maine Department of Labor dedicated to unemployment insurance and select "Register a New Business." Simply follow the prompts and complete the online application.

3. 

Report employees to the state and get insurance.

3.1 

Report employees to the state.

Report employees to the state.

Each of your newly hired and re-hired employees must be reported to the Maine Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery. This process must be repeated every time you employ a new staff member. The employer must report employees, whether full-time, part-time, or student worker, within 20 days of employment.

You can report a new hire online. You will need to create an account to access the online services. You can also report employees by fax or by mail. Simply download the form and follow the address information at the bottom of the form.

To complete the form, you will need the following information:

  • Employee's name.
  • Employee's address.
  • Employee's social security number.
  • Employee's date of birth.
  • Employee's date of hire.
  • Employer's name.
  • Employer's address.
  • Employer's federal employer identification number.
3.2 

Obtain mandatory insurance.

Obtain mandatory insurance.

Almost all employers in Maine are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. Domestic workers are exempt. For more detailed information about exemptions, visit the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

Minimum automobile insurance for business drivers is also mandatory in Maine. In addition, if your business uses your truck or car, a commercial vehicle policy is recommended.

3.3 

Display required labor posters.

Display required labor posters.

In Maine, employers are required to display certain labor posters in the workplace. These can be downloaded from the Maine Department of Labor website.

Maine Business Types:

1. Sole proprietorship.

A sole proprietorship has no legal difference between the owner and the business and does not require filing with the state. While this is the easiest way to start a business but does not protect the business owner's personal assets as he is fully liable for any business debts and losses.

2. Partnership.

A partnership is a legally binding agreement between two or more individuals. The partners share management duties and profits. Similar to a sole proprietorship, this business structure does not afford the owners protection from liabilities.

3. Limited liability company.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid business structure that offers limited liability to its owners. Includes certain characteristics of both a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship. An LLC may choose to use corporate tax rules instead of being treated as a partnership.

4. Corporation.

A corporation is a formal legal structure and a more complex way to organize a business. It is authorized to act as a single entity and is recognized as such by law. It affords the shareholders protection from liability and is usually managed by a board of directors elected by the shareholders.

Fees for Starting a Business in Maine:

Filing Type

Fee

Name Reservation

$20.00

Statement of Intention to do Business under an Assumed Name

$125.00

Corporation - Articles of Incorporation

$145.00

LLC - Certification of Formation

$175.00

FAQs:

How much does it cost to register a business in Maine?

It costs $175.00 to register an LLC and $145.00 to incorporate in Maine. General partnerships and sole proprietorships are not required to register with the state but must still comply with license and tax requirements.

What permits do I need to start a business in Maine?

Maine does not have a general business license requirement at the state level. General licenses are handled at the town or city level. To find out what licenses your business needs, contact your local city office. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also need special licenses to operate in Maine.

Is Maine a good place to start a business?

While there are states in which starting a business may be cheaper than in Maine, Maine provides great resources and community support to small businesses and startups, making it an attractive state to start a small business.

How do I form an LLC in Maine?

  1. Name your LLC.
  2. Choose a registered agent.
  3. File the Certification of Formation.
  4. Create an operating agreement.
  5. Obtain an EIN.

How do I get a business tax ID in Maine?

You can complete an online application on the IRS website. Alternatively, you can download IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. There is no filing fee.

How do I start a sole proprietorship in Maine?

  1. Choose a business name.
  2. File necessary certificate with the city clerk.
  3. Obtain applicable licenses, permits, and zoning clearance.
  4. If you plan on hiring employees, obtain an Employer Identification Number.

What new hire information needs to be reported in Maine?

  1. Employee's name.
  2. Employee's address.
  3. Employee's Social Security number.
  4. Employee's date of birth.
  5. Employee's date of hire.
  6. Employer's name.
  7. Employer's address.
  8. Employer's Federal Employer Identification Number.

How much does it cost to register a business name in Maine?

It costs $20.00 to register a business with the Maine Secretary of State.

Where can I apply for a Maine sales tax license?

You can apply for sales tax by filing a hardcopy Tax Registration form. Alternatively, you can complete the process online.

Are there any specific rules for an LLC in Maine?

In order to register your LLC, you must file the Certificate of Formation with the State of Maine. You can file by mail or in person. The filing costs $175.00. The state of Maine also requires LLCs to have an operating agreement.

How do I register a business name in Maine?

You can register your business name with the Maine Secretary of State. You can visit the SOS website for the proper documentation.

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