Establishing a Business in Northampton

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.

Choosing A Business Type
One of the first decisions you will encounter in starting a new business is choosing a business structure. This link provides an explanation of various structures and how they affect a company’s tax treatment or liability. Before you enter into a business structure, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal and accounting advice.

Registering as a corporation in MA
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.

Guidelines for Starting a Business in MA
The Western MA Small Business Development Center provides information and resources on their website for starting a business in MA including:
  • Model business
  • Financing plan
  • 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.

Business Requirements
The following businesses must obtain an EIN: 
  • Sole proprietor with one or more employees (not including yourself)
  • Partnerships (A married couple running a business together, with or without employees, is considered a partnership)
  • Corporations with or without employees
  • Sole proprietor without employees (other than the owner) that are required to file excise, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or employment tax returns
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.

Federal EIN
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: 800-829-4933.