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NYS USA here.

I've been trying to answer a pretty simple question all morning, and have perused about a dozen articles or so like this one that come close to answering it, but don't quite get there.

I want to start a super-simple consulting business, but use an alias/business name. This will be a sole proprietorship and I will be obtaining a DBA.

  • Do I need to do anything other than register the DBA and pay the associated fee(s)? In other words, like an LLC or C-corp, is there a process and set of documents that must be produced to create a sole proprietorship?
  • Would I file a separate tax return each year for the sole proprietorship, or would I just file my personal taxes (I'm married and we file jointly) each year?
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A simple "sole proprietorship" comes into existence when you say it does. You don't even have to file any forms unless

  1. Your state or local government requires you to, based on the type of business you are conducting

  2. Your clients, partners, or banks require you to

  3. You want to limit your liability, protect your business name, or secure other rights that require registration, licenses, fees, or taxes

You have to declare income from business activity on your personal taxes. Unless you receive the income through an LLC or S-Corp, which must file its own tax declaration and then give you a K-1 to use in preparing your personal taxes, you will declare your business and 1099-MISC income and profit on Schedule C.

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    Thanks @feetwet (+1) - a few quick followup questions if you don't mind: (1) When you say "You want to...secure other rights that require registration", what kind of business registration exists in NYS for sole proprietorships (can you give an example or two perhaps)? And (2) When you say "Unless you receive the income through an LLC or S-Corp...you will declare your business", how do I "declare my business" in my tax filing? Is that on the Schedule C, or is it something I have to file ahead of time (before I go to file my taxes)? Thanks again! – smeeb Sep 22 '16 at 15:55
  • @smeeb - Declaring business income is something you do when you file your tax return. Normally it's done on Schedule C as self-employment income. It might qualify as "Other Income" and go straight on Form 1040. As for types of business registration: LLC is the most commonly used. I think you can also register as a "DBA entity," but I don't know offhand when that is required and what benefits it offers. – feetwet Sep 22 '16 at 16:02

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