West Virginia Department of Commerce Securing a Business License - State Registration

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Securing a Business License - State Registration



a. Organization - File with the Secretary of State

b. State Registration - Register with the state tax and employer agencies. 

c. Local Licensing - File copies with your local city or county agencies. 





Filing with Tax and Employer Agencies
Frequently Asked Questions
Changes in the Tax Department Computer Reporting System

Filing with Tax and Employer Agencies
Every person or company intending to do business in this state, including every individual who is selfemployed or hires employees, must obtain a business registration certificate from the West Virginia State Tax Department. Certain types of exclusions are individuals in the employ of their son, daughter or spouse or a child under 18 in the employ of the child’s father or mother.

Filing your business information can be done in two ways: through an online registration method or by submitting completed forms to the various federal and state agencies. The online method uses the interactive Web site, Business4WV.

The Business4WV system automates and streamlines the complex process of new business registration. The system allows new businesses to complete and track their basic registration utilizing a single Web site instead of coordinating independently with the Secretary of State, State Tax Department, Bureau of Employment Programs (Unemployment Compensation) and the private insurance providers for workers compensation. Business4WV simplifies business registration by collecting customer information through a dynamic online interview. As the interview proceeds, the responses of you, the business owner, drive the process — dynamically eliminating irrelevant questions and collecting only required and essential information. Business4WV also provides a coordinated back-office processing center where agency personnel review each registration application and interact with you, the owner, through a messaging center to quickly resolve problems with a filing. The registration moves through each agency’s review process employing custom-designed workflow and provides constant visibility of the status of the application to the customer and other involved agencies. Upon acceptance by an agency, data are transferred to the agency’s internal database systems.

Visit 
Business4WV and begin learning about this new and vital resource for the West Virginia entrepreneur. You also can contact your local SBDC office.

File a Business Registration Certificate (Form WV/BUS-APP) with the West Virginia State Tax Department. This is a permit to conduct business in the state and must be displayed at all times at the place of business. A separate certificate is required for each fixed business location from which property or services are offered for sale or lease or at which customer accounts may be opened, closed or serviced. Contractors also must have a copy of their Business Registration Certificate available at each of their construction sites until the work at that site is completed. The State Tax Department has simplified the process of licensing a business in West Virginia. There is a single application to register with all of the state agencies. To get a licensing application, call the State Tax Department at (800) 982-8297 or go to the Tax Department Web site. Click on Forms then click on Business Registration and follow the directions.

In the past, businesses had been required to obtain a business registration certificate that was valid for two years beginning July 1st and ending June 30th of the second year and the fee is $30 per location.

Effective July 1, 2010, an issuance of a new registration is permanent at a cost of $30. The bi-annual renewal of the business registration certificate is no longer necessary. The certificate is permanent until the business is closed or until the certificate is suspended, revoked or cancelled by the Tax Commissioner. Changes in name, ownership, or location are considered a cessation of business and a new business registration certificate and applicable fees are required. After July 1, 2010, existing businesses have been issued permanent registration certificates upon receipt of a completed ‘Reissuance of Business Registration (Permanent)’, (BRT-801A) and payment of $30.00. New Businesses must register by completing an “Application for Registration Certificate” (Form WV/BUS APP) which is available from the State Tax Department (www.wvtax.gov), or register online at www.Business4WV.com. Upon registration, a tax account will be established for the business, and the appropriate tax reporting forms will be provided. (Business Registration Tax, W.Va § Code 11-12)

If the business has employees or is a corporation, association, limited liability company, limited partnership or limited liability partnership, the identification number will be based on the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), which is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service. To request the SS-4 forms to obtain a taxpayer FEIN identification number from the Internal Revenue Service, call 1-800-829-1040 or visit the
IRS Web site
.

Many businesses perform work that is regulated. The work you do may require one or more special licenses or permits. For example, if you indicate on the business license registration form that you are doing construction-related work, the Contractor’s Licensing Board will send you an application form.

Many other licenses are listed on the application. Review the list carefully to determine if you need licenses or permits for the type of business you will operate. If you perform a specialized service which you believe might require a license but don’t find it listed, call the agency most likely to handle that service to inquire. Call the Secretary of State’s office or visit the 
Secretary of State’s Web site
to find a list of businesses requiring additional licensing by the state, county and municipal agencies.

If you are registering a new business, reopening an old business, or purchasing an existing business, in whole or in part, state law requires employers to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for its employees in case of workplace injury. If you employ even one person in West Virginia, except in very rare circumstances, you are required by law to obtain coverage. Failure to obtain and maintain proper Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage will subject you to a number of consequences, including the following:

  • Administrative fines by the Insurance Commissioner up to $10,000.
  • Loss of immunity against civil liability (you may be sued by your employee).
  • Immediate revocation of business license and permits.
  • Business may be enjoined from continuing operation.
  • Business and personal liability for all workers’ compensation claims paid plus attorneys’ fees.

Employers must apply directly to a private carrier for this insurance coverage. For information regarding available insurers, contact the Office of the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner. The information is below. Current application for workers’ compensation insurance and other business licenses and permits applicable to your business may be accessed via the internet at Business4WV.

Offices of the Insurance Commissioner
Employer Coverage Unit
1124 Smith St.
PO Box 50540
Charleston, West Virginia 25305-1682
(304) 558-6279, Ext. 1202

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Frequently asked questions:

Who is required to register?
What is considered a business activity?
Are all businesses required to obtain a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate?
What is the fee for obtaining a Business Registration Certificate?
Must everyone pay the $30 Business Registration Fee?
How do I Register?
What happens after I have completed the application and mailed it to the West Virginia State Tax Department?
What do I do with the West Virginia Business Registration Certificate?
How long is my Business Registration Certificate valid?
Revocation or suspension of Certificate
What if I don’t obtain a Business Registration Certificate before commencing business?
What if I anticipate doing business in West Virginia from outside of the state and unsure of my tax liability to West Virginia?
Changes in the Tax Department Computer Reporting System

Who is required to register?
    Any person who is engaging in any business activity in the state of West Virginia must register with the West Virginia State Tax  Department before commencing business activities in this State.This includes, but is not limited to, any individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, association, corporation, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, syndicate, club, society or other group or combination acting as unit, body politic or political subdivision. Churches and nonprofit organizations are not considered to be “businesses” or engaged in business or subject to any other tax laws by the mere completion of The Application For Business Registration.

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What is considered a business activity?
A business activity is all purposeful revenue-generating activity engaged in or caused to be engaged in with the object of gain or economic benefit, either direct or indirect. This also includes all activities of this State and its political subdivisions which involve the sale of tangible personal property or the rendering of a service when such service activities compete with or may compete with the activities of another person.

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Are all businesses required to obtain a West Virginia Business Registration Certificate?

No. Persons engaged in the following activities are not required to register if they engage solely in these activities.

  • Judicial sales directed by law or court order.
  • Sales for delinquent taxes of real or personal property.
  • The conduct of a charitable bingo licensed under West Virginia Code § 47-20 or charitable raffle licensed under West Virginia Code § 47-21.
  • The conduct of a horse or dog race meeting by any racing association licensed under West Virginia Code § 19-23.
  • The operation or maintenance of the pari-mutuel system of wagering during the conduct of a licensed horse or dog race meeting
  • The sale of any commodity during the conduct of a licensed horse or dog race meeting.
  • The services of owners, trainers or jockeys which are essential to the effective conduct of a licensed horse or dog race meeting.
  • Occasional or casual sales of property or services by persons not engaged in a business activity.

Additionally, any person engaging in a business activity who:

  • Is not required by law to collect any tax or withhold a tax; and
  • Does not claim exemption from payment of the West Virginia Consumers Sales and Service Tax or Use Tax; and
  • Had a gross income from business activity of $4,000.00 dollars or less from operations in all states during the Income Tax year most recently completed is also not required to obtain a Business Registration Certificate.

In order to claim this exemption from registration, all three conditions must be met.

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What is the fee for obtaining a Business Registration Certificate?
    The fee for obtaining a Business Registration Certificate is $30. A separate certificate is required for each fixed business location from which property or services are offered for sale or lease or at which customer accounts may be opened, closed or serviced. The Business Registration fee cannot be prorated.

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Must everyone pay the $30 Business Registration Fee?
No. Any person who is engaging in any business activity in this state is required to obtain a Business Registration Certificate, but is not required to pay the $30.00 Business Registration Fee if they meet one of the following conditions.

  • A non-profit organization which qualifies, or would qualify, for exemption from federal income taxes under section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
  • This State, or a political subdivision thereof, selling tangible personal property, admissions or services when those activities compete with or may compete with the activities of another person.
  • The United States, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, which is exempt from taxation by the states.
  • A person engaged in the business of agriculture or farming.
  • A foreign retailer, who is not engaging in a business in this state, who volunteers to collect and remit Use Tax on sales to West Virginia customers
  • An out-of-state company that does not have nexus in West Virginia and employs a West Virginia resident.
  • Follow the instructions to register a “Withholding Only” account.
  • A West Virginia private household employing domestic help. Follow instructions to register for a “Withholding Only” account.

All registrants applying for reinstatement of a revoked business registration certificate must file a new registration application and pay a $100.00 penalty.

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How do I Register?
To register with the West Virginia State Tax Department, you must complete the Application for Registration Certificate (Form WV/BUSAPP) in this booklet and return to: West Virginia State Tax Department, PO Box 11425, Charleston, West Virginia 25339-1425. You may register with all Agencies online at www.business4wv.com.

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What happens after I have completed the application and mailed it to the West Virginia State Tax Department?
Upon receipt of your Application for Registration Certificate, we will determine what tax forms you should receive by reviewing the application. For each tax you are responsible for, an account ID number will be assigned. Once your application is processed, you will receive your West Virginia Business Registration Certificate. A list of West Virginia tax accounts and their identification numbers will be provided. Tax forms are computer addressed and will be mailed to you prior to their due dates. After your business is registered you may choose to file tax returns and pay online at website mytaxes.wvtax.gov

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What do I do with the West Virginia Business Registration Certificate?
The Business Registration Certificate must be posted conspicuously in the place where you are conducting business. Businesses that sell tangible personal property or services from or out of one or more vehicles, must carry a copy of their Business Registration Certificate in each vehicle and publicly display it while business is conducted from or out of the vehicle. Any person engaging in any contracting business or activity must have a copy of their Business Registration Certificate available at each construction site in West Virginia until their work is complete at that site.

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How long is my Business Registration Certificate valid?
The Business Registration Certificate shall be permanent. For businesses registering after July 1, 2010 the Business Registration Certificate shall be valid until cessation of the business or until it is suspended, revoked or cancelled by the Tax Commissioner. 

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Revocation or suspension of Certificate
The Tax Commissioner may cancel or suspend a business registration certificate at any time if:

  • The registrant filed an application for a business registration certificate that was false or fraudulent.
  • The registrant willfully refused or neglected to file a tax return for any tax imposed.
  • The registrant willfully refused or neglected to pay any tax, additions to tax, penalties or interest when they became dueand payable.
  • The registrant neglected to pay the Tax Commissioner onor before it’s due date any tax imposed which the registrant collects and holds in trust for the State of West Virginia.
  • The registrant abused the privilege of claiming an exemption from payment of the consumers sales and service tax and use tax on some or all of its purchases for use in business; failed to timely pay purchasers use tax on taxable purchases; or failed to either pay the tax or provide a vendor with a properly executed exemption certificate or direct pay permit number.
  • The registrant failed to pay delinquent personal property tax to the County Sheriff where their business is located.

It has been determined by the Tax Commissioner the registrant is an ‘alter ego’ of a business that has previously been subject of a lawful refusal to issue, revocation, suspension or refusal to renew. A business is presumed to be an ‘alter ego’ if:

  • More than twenty percent of the assets have been transferred from another business or more than twenty percent of the assets were to have been used to secure the debts of the other business.
  • Ownership of the business is so configured that IRS Code Section 267 or 318 would apply to cause ownership of the businesses to be attributed to the same person or entity.
  • Substantial control of the business is held or retained by the same person or entity.

A revoked Business Registration Certificate may be reinstated upon payment of all outstanding delinquencies or by entering into an approved payment plan. There will be a $100.00 penalty imposed for reinstatement and a $30.00 registration fee of a revoked certificate if applicable.

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What if I don’t obtain a Business Registration Certificate before commencing business?
Engaging in business within the State of West Virginia, without obtaining a Business Registration Certificate when required by law, is a serious offense and could subject you to penalties of up to $100.00 a day for each day you continue to operate your business without a license.

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What if I anticipate doing business in West Virginia from outside of the state and unsure of my tax liability to West Virginia?
Call our automated form ordering system ((304)344-2068 or 1-800-422-2075) and request WV/NEXUS (nexus questionnaire) or visit our website www.wvtax.gov to download the form. Complete the questionnaire and Application for Registration Certificate and mail in the envelope provided in this booklet. The filing of an application for Registration Certificate and payment of the registration fee may not be construed by the Tax Commissioner or the Courts of this State as consent, submission or admission by the registrant to the general taxing jurisdiction of this State. Any liability for such other taxes imposed by this State shall depend upon the relevant facts in each case and the relevant law.

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Changes in the Tax Department Computer Reporting System
West Virginia has changed several areas of taxation that entrepreneurs should be aware of. For complete, current information on these and other tax responsibilities, please go to the Tax Department Web site or speak with your accountant. You can get information on those changes in Reporting Taxes: State, Local and Federal Taxes.

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