Florida Registered Agent
How to Start a Tampa Business
1. File Formation Paperwork
So, you’ve got a brilliant idea, and you’re ready to start a business in Tampa—what do you do now?
If you don’t know already, you’ve got to decide what type of business you want to create and file formation paperwork with the Florida Division of Corporations. The only instance in which you don’t need to file formation paperwork is if you form a sole proprietorship (however, you may still need to register a DBA).
For small business owners, the choice is often a Florida LLC. An LLC offers the advantages of personal asset protection, pass-through taxation, and a flexible management structure. You can form an LLC by filing Articles of Organization through Sunbiz.org and paying the $125 fee.
You can review your options using the Division of Corporation’s explanation of types of business entities/structures.
Considering an LLC or corporation for your Tampa business?
Compare filing on your own to hiring our expert local registered agents to form your LLC or corporation.
DIY Business Formation
Pay only the Florida state fees and use our guide to set up your company.
- $70 Corporation/ $125 LLC
- May add our $49/year registered agent service
- Business owners must write or purchase their own operating agreements or bylaws
Hire Your Registered Agent Today!
Our Business Formation Service
Hire us to save time, effort, and possibly money. Includes:
- $49/year registered agent service
- Option to use our address on public records
- State filing fees
- Article preparation and submission
- Attorney-drafted operating agreement or corporate bylaws
- Expert Florida business support for the life of your business
- Official state approved articles sent to us, and stored securely online indefinitely
All this for $49 registered agent + state fees + $100
2. Apply for an EIN
A good next step is getting your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, which you’ll need to file federal taxes. You’ll also often have to supply your EIN when applying for a business bank account and, sometimes, for licenses, permits, or local taxes.
While sole proprietors and single-member LLCs have the option to use their social security numbers, multi-member LLCs, corporations, and all businesses with employees must get an EIN.
3. Register any DBAs (Fictitious Names)
Many business owners, especially sole proprietors, choose to use a DBA (“doing business as” name), known as a fictitious name in Florida.
According to Florida state law, any sole proprietor doing business under a name that doesn’t include their full name must register a DBA. For example, while operating under “John Lopez, Private Chef” wouldn’t require a DBA, using a name like “Lopez Private Chef Services” or “Hourglass Personal Nutrition” would.
LLCs and corporations often use a DBA to start a new business line or rebrand without having to register a whole new business. For example, with a DBA, “Sunshine Party Planners, LLC” could branch out as “Gasparilla Party Trolley.”
4. Submit a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Starting January 1st, 2024, businesses formed at the state level (in Florida, all businesses except sole proprietorships) are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) report. The BOI report is a federal filing that must be submitted to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Aimed at reducing fraud and other financial crimes, the BOI report contains basic information about your company and the people with the most power over business decisions and profits. However, unlike state filings, the information contained in this report doesn’t go on the public record. There are some filing exemptions for businesses in already highly regulated fields.
5. Register for Florida State Taxes
Registering to pay your Florida state taxes is your next step, particularly if you’ll need to collect and pay sales tax. Most Tampa businesses that sell goods or services (including rental and repairs services) must pay a combined 7.5% sales tax—6% for the state and 1.5% for Hillsborough County.
You won’t have to worry about state income tax since Florida doesn’t collect it, but if you own a corporation, you will need to pay a 5.5% corporate tax on all your profits exceeding $50,000.
It’s also possible that you’ll have to pay additional taxes based on your industry. For example, dry cleaners must pay a 2% Florida Gross Receipts Tax on Dry-Cleaning Facilities.
How can I get a Business Tax Receipt?＋
You can apply for a Hillsborough Business Tax Receipt online using BTExpress. The portal will lead you through a series of questions to determine the documentation you’ll need to provide to get your receipt.
For Tampa Business Tax Receipts, you can apply with the Tampa.Gov New Business Tax Receipt Application.
How much does a Business Tax Receipt cost?＋
The cost of your Business Tax Receipt will depend on the type of business you own. As an example, for Hillsborough receipts, contractors will pay $18-468.75 (based on how many employees they have), a pawnbroker will pay $337.50, and a hotel will pay $1.50 per room. Tampa taxes also vary. For instance, an advertising agency must pay $243.09, plus $17.35 for each worker, while a DJ must pay $115.76.
Does my Business Tax Receipt need to be renewed?＋
Yes. Your Business Tax Receipts will expire on September 30th each year. You can renew anytime on or after July 1st.
Are there any Business Tax Receipt exemptions?＋
There are several Hillsborough Business Tax Receipt exemptions, such as veterans of the US armed forces and qualifying seniors.
What other local taxes will I need to pay?＋
7. Obtain any Required Licenses
There’s no general Florida business license, Hillsborough County business license, or City of Tampa business license.
However, depending on the type of work you do, you may need to obtain a professional or industry-specific license to remain in compliance with Florida law. All these licenses are issued through the state agencies, such as the Department of Health or Agriculture & Consumer Services. For instance, as an event caterer, you’d need a catering license and possibly a liquor license from the Department of Business & Professional Regulation.
There are also several Hillsborough County licenses required for select occupations and businesses, including contractors, childcare workers, and pain management clinics.
8. Acquire any Required Zoning Permits
One more thing you’ll need to do before opening shop is make sure that you obey zoning laws and obtain all necessary zoning permits. For instance, if you operate a bed and breakfast located in a residential zone, you’ll probably need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit ($428.12).
If you’re constructing a new building or making changes to an existing building, you’ll have to get both county- and city-level permits, which can run up into the thousands of dollars.
Tampa Business Resources
Prepare yourself to do business with valuable business resources based in the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County.
Getting your business started:
- Hillsborough County Resources & Training: The Hillsborough County government Resources & Training page lists a number of learning and consulting opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs, including a Startup Business Checklist and Hillsborough County Business Workshops and Training Calendar.
- Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Hillsborough: The FSBDC at Hillsborough County offers free business consulting and workshops on topics like creating a business plan, getting business insurance, and marketing. You can register for FSBDC business consulting online.
- Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC): The ECC provides training and learning resources along with conference rooms, meeting space, and technology for entrepreneurs to use as they build their businesses.
Resources for growth:
- Business and Entrepreneur Resources at the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative: Research tools and databases, plus meeting space and equipment.
- Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2): EDI2 provides grant funding, mentors, and other support for entrepreneurs.
- Minorities, Women, & Small Business: The county provides certification and business development programs, vendor outreach, and a directory for minority- and women-run businesses, along with small businesses.
- Veterans in Agriculture: Growth opportunities for veterans in the growing agriculture industry.
- Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County: Manufacturing is in high demand—find connections and ways to expand through the Manufacturing Alliance.
- South Tampa Chamber: Network with other local business owners and get the word out about yours.
Getting work with Hillsborough County or the City of Tampa:
- Doing Business with Hillsborough: Learn about vendor registration and information for working with the county.
- Doing Business with Tampa: Find out how to get a contract with the city, which awards over $200 in contracts each year.