Starting a Business in Georgia

Thinking of starting a business but not sure where to start? Here’s everything you need to know.
Couple reviewing business plan

Essential Steps When Starting a Small Business

What do you need to do to start a small business in Georgia? Once you’ve nailed down your idea and your business plan, you need to take several steps to make it official (and compliant with federal and state laws). Know your major considerations:

Filing a Business Entity

Filing your business entity makes your business official in the state of Georgia. This is necessary for you to legally operate within the state. Businesses must be registered through the Georgia Secretary of State. 

Older Business People on Computer

Tax Registration

 

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

All employers who have employees must be assigned an EIN (or Employer Tax ID) from the Internal Revenue Service. 

Apply Online

 

Georgia Sales & Use Tax

Obtain your Sales and Use Tax Number if you meet the state’s definition of “dealer.”

Apply Online

 

Georgia Withholding Tax

Any business with employees is required to obtain a state withholding payroll number. 

Apply Online
International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)

Registration is required for any motor carrier in Georgia that operates on an interstate basis and meets the state’s criteria

Apply Online

Business Licenses & Permits

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General Business Licenses

Business licenses can be obtained through Georgia’s Secretary of State office. The state requires different licenses depending on the industry. For the full list of professions that require a license in Georgia, you can consult the Georgia Secretary of State’s website

If you’re ready to apply for your business license, you can use Georgia’s online application

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Local Permits

In addition to Georgia’s business licensing and permit requirements, your local government area may have its own requirements. Check with your local city, county, or municipality for their small business permit requirements. Here are some of the most common additional permits:

  • Business License and/or Tax Permit
  • Building Permit
  • Health Permit
  • Occupational Permit
  • Zoning Permit
  • Signage Permit
  • Alarm Permit

Hiring Laws in Georgia

In addition to the national laws barring discrimination, Georgia has 2 additional laws to prevent hiring discrimination.

  • The Georgia Age Discrimination Act: Prohibits hiring practices that discriminate against individuals between the ages of 40 and 70. The law applies to private employers, regardless of the company size. 
  • Georgia Equal Pay Act: For public employers and private employers with 10 or more employees, Georgia requires employers to pay employees of the opposite sex equal wages for equal work. 

Employer Requirements

You’re almost there! The final step in setting up your business is to determine the federal and state employer requirements. 

Federal Requirements

  • Tax withholdings: View the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide for full requirements.
  • Tax records: The IRS requires businesses to retain records of employment taxes for at least 4 years. Learn more about the types of records small businesses are required to keep. 
  • Employee Eligibility Verification (Form I-9): Federal law requires employers to verify the employment eligibility for all employees hired after November 6, 1986. You can download Form I-9 and learn more about the process in the Instructions for Completing the I-9; Handbook for Employers. Proof of an employee’s eligibility to work must be obtained within 3 days of hire. This must be completed for citizens and non-citizens. For help navigating the I-9 form for non-citizens, you can consult the Small Business Guide to Immigration Regulations.  
  • Federal Income Tax Withholding (Form W-4): The W-4 form, which outlines tax withholdings, must be completed by every employee prior to or on their start dates. As the employer, you are responsible for submitting the W-4 to the IRS for verification.
  • Federal Wage and Tax Statement (Form W-2): Employers are required to report annual tax withholdings for each employee to the IRS. This is done using the W-2 form, which must be completed annually for each employee by January 31 for the preceding year. Copy A must be sent to the Social Security Administration (SSA). For full instructions on what you need to do, you can view the SSA’s Employer W-2 Filing Instructions and Information.
  • Form W-9: If you do business with a freelancer or independent third party, you must obtain a W-9. This is used for third parties who are responsible for filing their own taxes with the IRS.  

State Requirements for Georgia

Additional Employer Resources in Georgia

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