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Starting a Business in Missouri

Checklist and General Guidelines

(From the Missouri Business Portal)

 As you proceed through the process of starting your business, use this checklist as a guide to help ensure you operate your business in compliance with federal, state and local governments. 

Critical steps in the planning process:

Register the name of your business with the Secretary of State by filing the necessary forms and paperwork.  That office can be reached by calling (573) 751-4153.
The types of legal structure are: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. You can find a discussion of the issues involved in the legal formation of your company at  Each of these legal structures has unique registration requirements: 
• Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships - file a "Fictitious Name Registration."

• Corporations and LLC - file the articles of incorporation or articles of organization (LLC), which can be found at:
Information on federal LLC requirements can be found on the web at:

• S-corporation status - requires that you form your Missouri corporation or LLC and also file IRS Form 2553
To check on the availability of a business name, you can search the Secretary of State's database online at:

Obtain local business licenses through the city or county government (generally this is the city clerk or county clerk).

If you will be selling retail or wholesale, you will need a sales tax number or use tax.  Any business making retail sales is required to collect sales tax. Businesses operating solely as a wholesaler should also complete form 2643 and register as a wholesaler.  Go to the Missouri Department of Revenue site at: or call at (573) 751-2836 to get a sales tax number or sales tax exemption.

Federal Identification Number (EIN) - generally required only when you have business partners, hire employees, form a corporation or LLC. However, your bank may require an EIN to open a business account. Go to the IRS web site at to get form SS-4. 

Hiring Employees:

Before you hire any employees:
Obtain a Federal Employer Identification number (IRS form SS4)

Obtain a Missouri Employer withholding number by filing Missouri Department of Revenue form 2643 (Missouri Department of Revenue 573-751-5752)

File form 2699 to determine liability status for Unemployment Insurance contributions to the Missouri unemployment compensation fund.  For more information, contact the Missouri Division of Employment Security (573) 751-3328 or 751-3215; on the web at

Make appropriate arrangements to pay Workers Compensation Insurance.  For more information call Missouri Division of Worker's Compensation 1-800-775-2667 or (573) 751-4231 or on the web at
Once you have hired an employee:
Each employee must complete the IRS form W-4 and a Missouri form W-4.  A copy of the federal W-4 or the Missouri form must be forwarded to the Missouri Department of Revenue within 20 days of the new hire.  For more information, visit the IRS website at

The employee must complete an I-9. The employer keeps this form on hand in a separate file.  Download the form at:

With the first payroll you will:
o Withhold state income tax and federal income tax at a percentage determined by salary and exemption information stated on the form W-4.
o Withhold 6.2% of the employee's salary for Social Security taxes.
o Pay 6.2% of the amount of the employee's salary for Social Security taxes.
o Withhold 1.45% of the employee's salary for Medicare taxes.
o  Pay 1.45% of the employee's salary for Medicare taxes.
o Make monthly payment of these taxes to an approved banking institution on the 15th of the month.
o File reports with the government on a quarterly and annual basis; and, issue W-2 reports to employees at the end of the year.
o For more information, visit the IRS website at:  IRS Publication #15 is a good resource.
The employer is required to display appropriate work posters informing employees of their rights regarding discrimination, unemployment benefits, worker compensation, Equal Employment, Federal Minimum Wage, FMLA, OSHA, and Polygraph Protection Act.  These posters can be downloaded from
Review OSHA guidelines and check workplace safety procedures with all employees.  OSHA Region VII (816) 426-5861 or
Additional resources related to hiring employees include:

Additional Suggestions

Evaluate the feasibility of your business idea.  Refer to to evaluate your idea and estimate your start-up costs before you spend a lot of time and money. 

Prepare a written business plan.  For information on writing a business plan, refer to:

Check on local zoning ordinances, regulations, building permits and fire codes through the city or county government.

Determine whether your business requires a state or federal license or permit to operate.  Also check on state or federal regulations that may affect your business.  Information on selected types of businesses is available on the web at:

Select a banking institution and open a business account.

Consult with an insurance agent regarding fire, accident, liability, theft, and other types of commercial insurance.

Contact an accountant to determine if you are required to make quarterly estimated income tax payments to the IRS and self-employment tax payments.  Information on taxes for small business and/or self-employed can be found at
• File annual tax information for state and federal government.
• Keep a good set of records for all business activities.