8 Steps of Business Compliance in Ohio

8 Steps of Business Compliance in Ohio

Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Nasir Hanif

Starting a business is hard. Staying in business is even harder. Every day, you wake up not knowing what will happen. Will a new pandemic begin? Will the economy tank? Will a viral video catapult your business to the upper echelons of commerce?

In Ohio, the possibilities are endless. Ohio’s 850,961 small businesses employ 2.2 million people. The state also has the second-lowest cost of living in the United States and the third-best access to business funding.

It’s no wonder entrepreneurs, and consumers are flocking to this state to live, work, and play. But how do you do business in Ohio?

This vital question is one every intelligent business owner asks because there are many legal requirements for operating a business in this state. Here’s a step-by-step guide to legally running a business in Ohio.

Step 1: Register Your Business

Every business has to register with the Ohio Department of State. But before you can, you need to make sure the name of your business is available. Use this database to check the availability of your business’ name.

Once you’ve confirmed your name is available, use this form to register your business. You’ll need to know your business structure before you can register. The legal structures accepted in Ohio are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • General partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • Limited liability partnership
  • Limited liability company (for-profit and nonprofit)
  • Corporation (for-profit, nonprofit, and professional)

Step 2: Get the Right Insurance

Getting insurance is an absolute must in Ohio. But you need to know what kind you need. Here are a few types of Ohio business insurance to consider:

  1. General Liability Insurance: This type of insurance covers everything from property damage to medical payments for employees injured on the job. If needed, it will also cover lawsuits for libel, slander, and defamation.
  2. Professional Liability & Errors and Omissions Insurance: Sometimes, things go wrong, and you need to protect yourself from your customers. Accidents happen, and these insurance policies can protect you from business errors, missed deadlines, and accusations of negligence.
  3. Commercial Auto Insurance: You need commercial auto insurance if you have a fleet. Commercial auto insurance is beneficial in the event of fender benders, theft, or even natural disasters.
  4. Commercial Property Insurance: Every business, even those operating from a home office, needs commercial property insurance. This type of insurance protects your business’s physical structure, equipment, and inventory, and even covers income disruptions.

These are just a few of the many insurance options you should think about. The Ohio Department of State recommends businesses consider getting insurance for the following:

  • Liability
  • Buildings
  • Business interruption
  • Business income
  • Boiler and machinery
  • Business personal property
  • Commercial auto
  • Management protection
  • Human failure
  • Employee protection
  • Computer equipment
  • Vehicles
  • Burglary

Step 3: Check the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

One necessary type of insurance not covered in the previous section is workers’ compensation insurance. Ohio has legally mandated workers’ compensation insurance for all businesses with one or more employees.

Requiring workers’ compensation insurance protects business owners from liability when accidents inevitably happen. When needed, they also provide lost wages, medical care, retraining, permanent injury, and survivor benefits.

Check in with Ohio’s Bureau of Worker’s Compensation to see what type of coverage your business needs.

Step 4: Register with the Department of Taxation

Does your business need to collect taxes? This is a critical question every entrepreneur needs to answer.

Get registered with the Ohio Business Gateway to register and file Commercial Activity Tax (CAT), sales taxes, employer withholding taxes, and municipal income taxes. Here, you can quickly and easily pay your taxes and stay compliant.

And don’t forget, sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations must pay tax on their net earnings. Investors in corporations also need to pay income tax on their dividends.

Ohio’s CAT is imposed on service providers like medical professionals, attorneys, accountants, as well as investors buying or selling property. These businesses must pay the CAT if they earn $150,000 or more gross receipts in a calendar year.

Step 5: Report to the New Hire Reporting Center

Ohio wants to track employment accurately, and business owners are essential to that process. So whenever you have an employment change, like a new hire or resignation, add it to the New Hire Reporting Center.

On this website, you can add information about your new, current, and former employees to help Ohio keep better track of the state’s employment market.

Step 6: Consult the Department of Job & Family Services

Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) helps administer unemployment, child support, veterans benefits, and more. All businesses in Ohio need to establish an Unemployment Compensation Tax Account with this department.

To do this, visit the DJFS website and search for “employers.” Setting up your Unemployment Compensation Tax Account keeps you compliant and ensures your employees will have access to the unemployment benefits they deserve, should the need arise.

Step 7: Get Licenses & Permits

This part of setting up a business is always a bit challenging because every state and every type of business has different licensing and permitting requirements. To do business in Ohio, use this checklist to see what your company needs.

There is, however, one license most businesses in Ohio need. The state requires a vendor’s license for all companies engaging in retail sales. Getting this license is critical because it enables you to collect sales tax. Click here to apply for a vendor’s license.

And don’t forget to check in with the local government where your company is located. They may have local permits or zoning requirements that affect your business.

Step 8: File an Annual Report of Unclaimed Funds

If you have any unclaimed funds at the end of the year, you must report them to the Ohio Department of Commerce. You can complete and submit the report online by clicking here.

Is your Ohio business operating as it should? Or do you need to make a few tweaks to get legal? No matter your situation, do everything you can to operate according to the law and with the right insurance coverage. Do that, and you’ll be set to succeed.

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