Committing to eCommerce: licenses

business licence timeUp to this point, it's all been fun and games.  A lot of research, thinking and writing about what's been found.  No real skin in the game.  Now comes the moment of truth.  Time to commit and go through the process of filling out all the paperwork and paying all the fees to become legit. 

Truth is that this whole thing really started about a year ago when, egged on by a particularly persuasive bottle of Merlot, I went to the Nolo website and submitted forms to set up a LLC.  The Merlot's encouragement didn't last long.  Consequently, that burst of enthusiasm died down quickly - but the LLC has lingered unattended until now. 

To start back up again, where I left off before, I'm sure the State of Washington is gonna want me to do something more and the Feds probably will, too.  So let's first see what the State has to say and take it from there.

Getting business licenses

State license

First stop is the Washington State business FAQ page.   Here's what I found there:

" You need a license if you meet 1 or more of the following criteria:

  • Your business grosses $12,000 or more per year.
  • You’re doing business using a name other than your full legal name.
  • You plan to hire employees within the next 90 days.
  • You sell a product or provide a service that is taxable. To find out more about what products or services are taxable, see the Department of Revenue’s Business tax guide, or call them at 1-800-647-7706.
  • Your business has specialty licenses available through the Business Licensing Service.

If you need to get a business license, file a Business License Application. "

I plan to sell something that could be considered taxable and would love to make more than $12k per year, so I used that link and logged in.  Instructions say it will require having:

  • "Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer ID (ITIN) and date of birth of all governing persons (owners, partners, officers and LLC members)
  • Employee information (start date, duties, and number of hours worked)
  • Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number, if you have one
  • Federal Employer ID Number (FEIN)."

Don't have that last one.  Looks like we get that online from the IRS.  Done.  Now back to the state business licensing page.  Answered all the questions and paid the fees.  Now I wait for a week or two for everything to work it's way through the process.  Says I need a city business license and some 'endorsements'.   What isn't clear is if I have to file a separate request for a reseller permit.  Hmmm.  Followed the supplied link to apply for a reseller permit and .... my login didn't work. After some fiddling, I discovered that this branch of DOR doesn't share login credentials with the branch I'd just visited.  That would be nice to know. 

I needed a PAC number to complete the registration.  Couldn't find that on the stuff I had available so I had to call to get that.  Finally got registered and into my account and discovered a reseller permit already there and waiting for me.  Feel like I'm getting a little bit of newbie hazing.  Not up to speed yet with all this biz-speak.

City license

Checking to make sure a city license is required, I found:

"Most businesses operating in Seattle are required to have a Seattle business license tax certificate. You need a license tax certificate for:

  • retail sales and services
  • wholesale
  • providing professional or personal services
  • manufacturing

Less common business types, like home-based businesses and nonprofits, usually require a business license tax certificate as well."

So the answer is yes.  At the city of Seattle licensing page, there's a list of things needed to get through the application.  I need a NAICS classification code.  OK.  Off to the NAICS search site.  Plunked in keyword blog and searched.  Nothing.  Try eCommerce.  No hits.  How about Internet retail?  That did return some possibilities

  • 454110 Auctions, Internet retail

Next to try, kits.

  • 339930 Doll, Toy, and Game Manufacturing

And, lastly, see what comes up for Internet publishing

  • 519130 Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals

This search tool strikes me as being a particularly 'blunt' tool when considering the current state of the art for search algorithms and the importance of this topic.  Because these selected categories only approximate what I intend to do, I hope the choices aren't binding, just in case I didn't guess right.  Especially puzzling since the city registration form only allows one entry.  Weird.

Went back to the city licensing application page and did the deed.  More puzzling entries required.  More opportunities to enter the same data multiple times.  More $$$ demanded.  Damn.  Really hope something sells in the near future as this money pit just keeps getting dug deeper and deeper.  In about 3 weeks they tell me I'll get the actual license.  No big hurry, I guess.  There's still lots to do between now and then.