Massachusetts 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, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue 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 the county or city where the business will operate. Start with a business name search at the City or Town Clerk’s Office to avoid legal problems and customer confusion.

Also 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 Google searches for “Crystal Clean Maid Service+Massachusetts” 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 exact name you want or similar names are being used.

Sole-proprietorships and general partnerships that choose to register an Assumed Name are required to file with the City or Town Clerk’s Office. Filing for an Assumed Name name does not guarantee a business sole rights to the use of that name. Other businesses in the state may also register the same assumed name. Registered businesses are expected to legally defend their trade names.

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Business License Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners do not have to apply for a state business license in Massachusetts. All business licenses are obtained at the local city or town clerk’s office.   Find a Massachusetts town clerk.

In Massachusetts, 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 an assumed name or DBA (“doing business as”) 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. Note: A husband and wife running a business together in Massachusetts are considered a partnership, not a sole proprietorship.

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

Register online with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through MassTaxConnect.

Residential housecleaning services are not taxable in Massachusetts. House cleaning services do not have to collect and send sales taxes to the Department of Revenue.

Sole proprietors and general partners pay tax on business income to the state of Massachusetts through their personal state tax return. Sole proprietors and general partners are responsible for paying estimated self-employment income taxes in Massachusetts (on Form Form 1-ES) similar to the way self employment taxes are paid to the federal government. Get more information about estimated tax requirements by calling the Massachusetts Department of Revenue at (617) 887-6367 or toll free in Massachusetts (800) 392-6089.

Massachusetts general partnerships that file a Federal partnership information Form 1065, may need to file state income tax Forms 3 and Schedule 3K-1. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your partnership must file those returns.

Selected Massachusetts City Licenses:

Boston Business License: https://www.boston.gov/starting-business#register-a-business

Brockton Business License: http://www.brockton.ma.us/Government/Departments/Clerk/ClerkDocsandFees.aspx

Cambridge Business License: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Services/applyforabusinesscertificate

Lowell Business License: https://www.lowellma.gov/461/File-a-Business-Certificate

New Bedford Business License: http://www.newbedford-ma.gov/city-clerk/helpful-information/business-certificate-letter/

Quincy Business License: https://www.quincyma.gov/govt/depts/city_clerk/business_certificates.htm

Springfield Business License: https://www.springfield-ma.gov/cos/index.php?id=clerk-business

Worcester Business License: http://www.worcesterma.gov/city-clerk/certificates-licenses/business-certificates

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