Maine Cleaning Business Start-up Laws

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This article provides three key state business startup requirements for self-employed sole proprietors and general partners who run residential house cleaning businesses. Information from the Secretary of State, Maine Revenue Services and selected city and county government sources were used to research this article.

Be aware that sole proprietor and general partner startup requirements in this state are always changing. Some requirements even vary from county to county.  It is important that you call or visit your local county or city government to find out local requirements for residential house cleaning businesses and home-based businesses. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal or tax advice.

Business Name Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners who want a business name that does not include the owner(s) full names (for example, Janice Smith’s Cleaning Service or Martha Harris and Tom Graham’s Maid Service) need to find out whether the name they want to use is available in their city or town in Maine. It is advisable to do a search for names other businesses are using in the state and county. Start with a search of business names currently in use by incorporated businesses in Maine.

Then do an online search for names similar to the one you plan to use. For example, if you want to use the name, Crystal Clean Maid Service, do simple Google searches for “Crystal Clean Maid Service+Maine” plus Crystal Clean Maid Service+your county” and “Crystal Clean Maid Service+your town or city”. Search beyond the first page of results. Go at least five pages deep into the search results to see if the name you want or similar names are being used in your state, county or city.

You can also check offline for possible business names in the Maine Business and Professional Directory or the Maine Register at the local library.

Sole proprietors and general partners should register for a Fictitious Name or DBA (“doing business as” name) for their business with the Maine city or town where the business is based. If the DBA name is available, fill out the DBA name form and have it notarized. Then file it with the city or town clerk’s office. The city clerk may keep the original DBA Name Certificate, so be sure to request a couple of certified copies, one for the bank and one for your business records.

Find Local Government contact information.

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Business License Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners of residential house cleaning businesses do not have to register with the state of Maine. Business licenses are issued by cities and towns in Maine.  Sole proprietors and general partners must register for a DBA license with the city or town where the business is based.  The application needs to be notarized, which is often done as part of the registration.  ID is often required at the time of registration.  According to state law, sole proprietorships can be owned by an individual or a married couple.

In Maine, a general partnership is created when two or more owners form an oral or written agreement to start a business together. General partners are not required to file any documents with the Secretary of State. It is advisable for general partners to file a Fictitious Name or DBA in the city or town where the business is based. A written partnership agreement drawn up by a lawyer is important for both or all partners. Partnership agreements do not have to be filed with the state.

Sole proprietors and general partners may apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS even if they do not plan to hire employees. Getting an EIN may make it easier to open a bank account and reduce your risk of identity theft. You can apply for an EIN online. In addition, some business registration forms will require a NAICS business classification number for the house cleaning industry.

Business Tax Registration

Business tax registration in Maine is done at the city and town level.

Residential housecleaning services are not taxable in Maine. House cleaning services do not have to collect and send sales taxes to Maine Revenue Services. Residential House cleaning businesses also do not have to file or pay Maine’s Service Provider Tax.

Sole proprietors and general partners pay tax on their business income on individual state tax returns. Sole proprietors and general partners are responsible for paying estimated self-employment income taxes in Maine (on Form 1040ES-ME) similar to the way self employment taxes are paid to the federal government. Get more information about estimated tax requirements by calling Maine Revenue Services at (207) 626-8475.

Maine general partnerships that file a Federal partnership information Form 1065, may need to file state income tax Form 941P if any partners are not residents of Maine. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your partnership must file those returns.

Selected Maine City Licenses

Bangor Business License: http://www.bangormaine.gov/Business-Licensing

Lewiston Business License: https://www.lewistonmaine.gov/110/City-Clerk

Portland Business License: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/150/Business-Licensing

South Portland Business License: https://www.southportland.org/departments/city-clerk/clerk-business-licenses/

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