West Virginia 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 West Virginia State Tax Department 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

A sole proprietor or general partnership business that includes the owner’s full legal name(s), does not have to register a business name with the state or counties of West Virginia. 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 state of West Virginia. Start with a statewide corporate business name search to avoid legal problems and customer confusion.

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+West Virginia” 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.

Sole proprietors and general partners can file a Trade Name or DBA (“doing business as” name) Registration (Form TN-1) with the Secretary of State if they plan to use a Trade Name. The Secretary of State cannot file a Trade Name until the sole proprietorship or general partnership is registered with the State Tax Department.  It is important to remember that the name must be different from any other name already registered.

Sole proprietors and general partners must record the Trade Name with local county clerk.  Find a county clerk in West Virginia.

In the state of West Virginia, registering a Trade Name (DBA) Registration does not guarantee a business sole rights to the use of that name. While the the name must be different from any other name already registered with the state, other businesses in the state may also register a similar Trade Name in other states or federally and use them in West Virginia. Registered businesses are expected to legally defend their trade names.

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Business License Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners are required to register with the State Tax Department.

West Virginia provides an online portal for license and tax registration at the WV One Stop Business Portal.    The One Stop Business Portal includes the New Business Startup Wizard that can give addresses, phone numbers and online links to city, county and state government agencies new businesses need to get started.

In West Virginia, a general partnership is created when two or more owners form an oral or written agreement to start a business together. While general partners are not required to file any documents with the Secretary of State, it is advisable to record the Trade Name with the county clerk 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

Sole proprietors and general partners must register with the State Tax Department. Business tax registration can be done online at the WV One Stop Business Portal.

Residential house cleaning services are taxable in West Virginia. House cleaning businesses must collect and send sales taxes to the State Tax Department. In addition, some cities and towns also require payment of local Business and Occupation taxes or Municipal sales taxes.

Sole proprietors and general partners must pay taxes on the business income they earn through individual state income tax returns. Sole proprietors and general partners are responsible for paying estimated self-employment income taxes in West Virginia (on Form IT-140ES) similar to the way self employment taxes are paid to the federal government. Get more information about estimated tax requirements by calling the West Virginia State Tax Department at (304) 558-3333 or (800) 982-8297 Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm.

West Virginia general partnerships that file a Federal partnership information Form 1065, may need to file state income tax Form SPF-100. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your partnership must file those returns.

Selected West Virginia City Licenses

Charleston Business License: https://www.charlestonwv.gov/government/business-startup

Huntington Business License:  https://www.cityofhuntington.com/business/new-business/license/

Morgantown Business License: http://morgantownwv.gov/247/Steps-to-Starting-Your-Business

Parkersburg Business License: http://parkersburgcity.com/pc/businesses/mov-workforce/

Wheeling Business License: https://www.wheelingwv.gov/directory/Finance/business-license

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