Establishing a Business

Business Certificates
The city clerk issues business certificates for registering a business in Northampton. A business certificate is commonly referred to as a D/B/A form or a "Doing Business As" form. A business certificate is needed if you are doing business under a name other than your own personal name.

Starting a Business

Helpful information from the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Before you enter into a business structure, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal and accounting advice.

Corporations
New for profit and non-profit corporations must register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of MA. This can be done on-line at the Secretary of State's Office. Existing corporations and trademarks in MA can be searched on-line at the Secretary's corporate divisions section of their website.

Starting a Business Guidelines
The Western MA Small Business Development Center provides information and resources on their website for starting a business in MA including: model business and financing plan and business obligations checklists.

Employer Identification Number
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) also known as a federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. This number is used for both federal and state tax purposes. The following businesses must obtain an EIN:
  • Sole proprietor with one or more employees (not including yourself). Sole proprietor without employees (other than the owner) that are required to file excise, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or employment tax returns
  • Partnerships (A married couple running a business together, with or without employees, is considered a partnership)
  • Corporations with or without employees
Exceptions
Sole proprietor without employees (other than the owner), and which are not required to file excise, alcohol, tobacco, firearms do not need to obtain a federal employer identification number. A personal social security number can be used instead for business tax purposes.

To obtain a federal EIN, you must file an application for Employer Identification Number (Form SS-4) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Applications can be made on line or by phone at 1-800-829-4933.

Finding a Site

The Economic Development Director provides site selection services and keeps a listing of available commercial and industrial properties in Northampton to help you locate a suitable property to meet your needs.

Zoning & Land Use Permitting
It is important to confirm that your business will be located in the proper zoning district. The Economic Development Director or the Office of Planning and Sustainability can help identify appropriate zoning districts for your business. Some businesses are also allowed as home occupations.

The Office of Planning and Sustainability can provide information on all land use permits that might be required for your business. Carolyn Misch, Permits Manager, can be reached at 413-587-1287. A copy of the Northampton Zoning Ordinance and other land use regulations can be found online.

Building Permits

The Building Commissioner's Office issues permits for building construction, plumbing, electrical, gas, signs, and initial zoning review. The Building Commissioner's Office can be reached at 413-587-1240.

Additional Permits
  • Health
  • Liquor, Entertainment, Common Victual Licenses
  • Utilities / Trench, Curb Cuts, Stormwater and Other Public Works Permits
  • Fire Safety, Hazardous Materials
State & Federal Taxes
Most businesses or their owners are required to pay income tax on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Other taxes that might be required are: unemployment tax, worker's compensation, payroll tax, sales tax. It is your responsibility to inform yourself and to comply with the state and federal tax filing requirements.

The MA Department of Revenue provides an online Guide to Massachusetts Tax and Employer Obligations which provides specific information on a variety of state tax obligations. DOR also offers a free Small Business Workshop designed to walk you through your tax obligations. This workshop is co-sponsored by the IRS and also covers important federal tax issues. Registration is accepted online or by phone.

Massachusetts Department of Revenue

  • Customer Service Bureau
  • Charles F. Hurley Building
  • 19 Staniford Street
  • Boston, MA 02114
  • Ph: 617-887-6367 or toll free in state at 1-800-392-6089
  • Department of Revenue Website
Internal Revenue Service
  • J.F.K. Federal Building
  • Government Center
  • Boston, MA 02203
  • Phone: 617-316-2850 or 1-800-829-1040
  • IRS
Health Care
In April of 2006, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted the Health Care Reform Law, landmark legislation to provide health insurance for nearly every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth. All Massachusetts residents over 18 years of age are required to have health insurance by December 31, 2007.