FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

We hope you will find the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) helpful.

Please note that the information provided here is not guaranteed to be accurate or correct. Furthermore we have no ability to monitor the websites or pages of the external links. You should always consult with a professional before making any business decisions.

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How do I get a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)? 

One good way is to go to the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov. On the left side under Contents, click on “Businesses”. In the gray column on the left of the page you will find a Topics area; click on “Employer ID Numbers”. Then click on “How to apply for an EIN.” You can also read about related topics on this Web site.


Where can I learn more about incorporating an Iowa small business? 

A good place is the Secretary of State’s Web site at http://www.sos.state.ia.us  On the left side, click on “Business Center,” then click on “Choosing a business organization in Iowa.” You will be presented with a list of options. Familiarize yourself with the options. It is possible to form a corporation without the assistance of an attorney, but not particularly wise. There are many different tax and legal implications to each choice and we strongly recommend you get professional assistance for these decisions. Also, because there are many other issues to consider before starting a business, think about calling your nearest SBDC office for free and confidential help.


What permits or applications do I need to start a business? 

The forms (licensing, permits and registrations) that you need to file are very dependent on two issues: what type of business ownership format you choose (sole proprietorship, LLC, Corporation) and what type of business you are forming. To start business in Iowa a retail business needs to obtain a sales tax permit. If your business will have employees and pay wages you will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and an Iowa Withholding Tax Registration. The EIN is also required if you will operate your business as a partnership, corporation or limited liability company. Certain types of businesses need other permits, for instance, restaurants need food licenses and alcohol beverage serving permits. In order to determine whether your business needs any permits, contact your nearest Small Business Development Center.


Do I need a special license to operate a business? 

Generally, when your business is regulated by an Iowa licensing board or authority, you will need to acquire a license to conduct business in Iowa. Most retail businesses will only need a sales tax permit. Professional services and food businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, and bars all need special permits and licenses to conduct business. Any business having employees will need an Employer Identification Number and an Iowa withholding registration. Each type of business and form of business entity have unique requirements. We would recommend a visit to your nearest Small Business Development Center to have your specific concerns answered. You can find the SBDC nearest you on this Web site by going to SBDC Services and then clicking on the Directory.SBA customers may register their business at the state level and to apply for and receive their Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) at the same time, thereby saving time and money, and reducing the paperwork burden on the small business owner. http://www.businesslaw.gov


Do I need a sales tax permit? How do I get one?

A retail business needs a sales tax permit if you are selling products or services that have been specified taxable by Iowa law. A business will need to complete and file an Iowa Business Tax Registration form. These forms are available at all SBDC offices as well as accounting offices. When completed, there are three ways to file: by mail, fax or online.

Mail the form to: Registration Services, Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance, PO Box 10465, Des Moines, IA 50306-0465, or fax it to 515-281-3906, or go on the Internet at www.state.ia.us/tax and complete an online registration.

Some nonprofit resources:
The Alliance http://www.allianceonline.org
The Alliance for Nonprofit Management is the professional association of individuals and organizations devoted to improving the management and governance capacity of nonprofits – to assist nonprofits in fulfilling their mission. Includes nonprofit FAQs and a nonprofit resource center.
The National Center on Nonprofit Enterprise http://www.nationalcne.org
The NCNE helps managers and leaders of nonprofit organizations make wise economic decisions to ensure that their organizations best serve their members, clients, donors and the general public by pursuing their social missions efficiently and effectively. The NCNE is a unique knowledge reservoir that consolidates, interprets and synthesizes existing knowledge, bridging academic research with practice and policy.


How do I find a list of business names? 

The Iowa Secretary of State’s website (http://www.sos.state.ia.us) has a database of corporations registered in Iowa. From the homepage, click on the “Business Center” link located at the top left of the page. Then click on the “Corp Search” link. You will then be able to perform a search to see if a name has been registered in Iowa. We cannot insure that the database is up-to-date, so you may need to call the Secretary of State’s office at 515-281-5204 to verify that a name is available.

Where can nonprofit businesses in Iowa get help? 

Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center
130 Grand Ave Court
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 866-500-8980
E-mail: nonprofit@uiowa.edu
Web site:http://nonprofit.law.uiowa.edu


How do I register a business name? 

Registration of a business name depends upon the form of business to be used and upon the ‘range’ of the business.

A sole proprietorship or partnership doing business in Iowa should stop by their county recorders office to file a “registration of Trade Name” certificate.

This form takes only a few minutes to complete and have notarized – total cost to you is generally under $10. If you are doing business locally and have little concern about expanding long term to become a large firm, then that could be acceptable.

Please know that this process by no means ‘copyrights’ your business name – it does not give you protection of the name outside the county it is merely a registration that you are doing business under that name.

Should you form an LLC or Corporation your attorney will help you complete the filings needed to register your company with the Iowa Secretary of State.

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