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How to Open a Company in the United States

Even if you are not a resident or citizen, you can invest in the United States. B1 visa holders – business visa – have the right to acquire property, sign contracts and establish a business in the country. However, there are several steps and rules for starting a business, which may vary from state to state. It is important to be informed of the legal issues regarding the process and to always consult your attorney.

The two initial steps to open a business are: applying to register in the state you chose and establishing a registered agent, with a valid address. This agent can be either the owner of the business or another person who is authorized to receive legal papers on behalf of the company.

According to lawyer Genilde Guerra, from Kravitz & Guerra Law Offices, in Miami,FL, paying taxes is another issue to be cautious of. “The
U.S.tax code can be confusing, even for those who live in the country for a long time. The violation of fees may result in penalties”, she said.

Foreigners who do not have a social security number need to request an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to begin the process of opening your company.

Lean the ten basic steps for opening your own business, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

1 – Start a business plan: provide executive summary, business description, marketing and management plans, finance projections and the necessary documentation.

2 – Seek assistance and training: Look for professional advice and take advantage of free training sessions that will teach you from how to prepare the business plan to finance expansion and relocation.

3 – Define the business location: Find a location conducive to your type of company.

4 – Finance: Search options for government loans, venture capital and research grants.

5 – Determine the legal structure of your business: you must define the business entity type. The business structure determines which income tax return must be filed. The options of legal structures are:

  • Sole Proprietorship: most common among small businesses. A sole owner is someone who has, by himself or herself, an unincorporated company.
  • Partnership: two or more people who can carry on the company together. Each person involved contributes with capital, labor and property or shares profits and losses. This category must report annual income, deductions etc., but it doesn’t pay income taxes.
  • Corporations: more common among large businesses, those are separate and distinct entities from their owners. Some features are the limited liability, ease of company’s shares transfers and perpetual existence. The Corporations do not necessarily need to be managed by their owners and the taxes are remitted by the company separately.
  • S Corporation: it is similar to Corporations when regarding the limited liability and ease of transfers. However, taxes are charged directly to the company’s owners, avoiding double taxation.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): may be formed by two or more persons, it has low cost and requires little formality and limits the owners’ responsibilities. It is popular among small companies with a sole owner who seeks advantages of sole proprietorships, but without exposing his or her own properties.

6 – Register a business name: for sole proprietors it will be the owner’s full name. For partnerships the legal name is the one given in the agreement or it can be formed by the last names of the partners. For LLCs and corporations, it is the same legal name that has been registered with the state government.

7 – Get a Tax Identification Number: find out what type of identification is necessary for your case.

8 – Register for state and local taxes: apply for an ID number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disabilities insurance.

9 – Get licenses: Get a list of federal, state and local licenses that are required to start your business.

10 – Understand employer responsibilities: Learn the necessary legal steps to hire employees..

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