By Mark Henricks
Texas is often at or near the top of states for business climate. The Lone Star State has both the second-largest population and economy after California, and it offers low business costs, no state income tax and strong growth. At the same time, only 83 percent of Texas adults have a high school diploma, according to the Census Bureau, and despite the economy’s increasing diversity, oil price changes have a big effect on the state’s economy. If you’re planning on starting a business in Texas, here’s what you need to know.
Starting a business in Texas begins with planning. The first choice is which product or service to sell. Entrepreneurs usually decide this based on personal strengths, individual objectives and market realities.
Major industries in Texas include energy, petroleum refining, cotton production, aerospace, manufacturing, biotechnology and information technology. It has the largest state export economy, exceeding the combined total of the next two states, California and New York. Mexico is its largest international trading partner and petroleum products its largest export.
Creating a marketing plan for a Texas business includes the basic steps for a business plan anywhere. This includes identifying likely customers, finding best ways to reach them and crafting a marketing message.
Also, the rapidly growing population of Hispanic Texans is forecast to exceed the white population by 2022. Therefore, Texas marketing plans often address multiculturalism and bilingualism.
As noted, the Texas workforce is less well-educated than most. And the state’s unemployment rate is often lower than the national rate. So planning for ways to attract and retain adequately skilled workers is a priority for a Texas business that will need employees.
Texas startups are financed with founders’ savings, bank loans, venture and angel capital, public offerings, issuing debt and crowdfunding. In addition, state government-supported financial incentives can help address capital needs of young, growing businesses. These include incubators, non-profit lenders, micro-loans, worker training support and more.Choose a Business Structure
Registering a business entity with the state, when required, can be done online through the SOSdirect portal.Register the Business Name
Business entities that are required to file with the state will register the business name during filing. To do business under a name other than the owner’s surname or the entity’s exact legal name, they must file an assumed name certificate. This is done with the county clerk in each county in which a business office is or will be maintained. This includes sole proprietorships and partnerships not required to register with the state.
There are 254 counties in Texas, more than any other state. You can find a map giving addresses of all 254 county clerks’ offices at Texas.gov.Get Tax Permits
Texas is one of just seven states without a personal income tax. However, it does have a franchise tax. States sales and other taxes are also collected. To conform to the law, businesses have to get tax ID numbers. And businesses must register with the Internal Revenue service to pay federal taxes.
To get a federal Employer Identification Number, businesses can apply with the Internal Revenue Service. The EIN let employers withhold taxes on worker wages and salaries and file the business’s federal tax return.
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts collects sales taxes and franchise taxes as well as other taxes for the state and local governments. Businesses can apply on line for a sales tax permit at the comptroller’s website.
The Texas Workforce Commission collects unemployment taxes. Sole proprietors are not subject to unemployment taxes. Employers can file wage reports, pay taxes and manage their accounts at the commission’s website.How Texas Taxes Businesses
Texas collects approximately 60 different taxes and fees on various kinds of businesses. Some such as the sales tax apply to many or most businesses. Others are industry-specific, applying only to businesses in one field such as mixed beverages, cement production and oyster sales.
Legal business entities pay the franchise tax. This applies to businesses with at least $1.18 million in annual sales. The tax rate on other retail and wholesale businesses is 0.375 percent. Other businesses pay 0.75 percent.
A 6.25 percent sales and use tax is charged on retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods. Some services are also taxable. Cities, counties, special purpose districts and transit authorities can collect up to 2 percent more. The maximum combined rate is 8.25 percent.Obtain Licenses and Permits
The Texas governor’s office maintains an online business permit portal with information on permits and licenses required to do business in the state. There business owners can download a guide to permits for businesses from accountants and ostrich farmers to racetrack operators and wineries.Bottom Line
Texas has low costs, minimal taxation and a relaxed regulatory environment. Large, diverse and fast-growing, the state offers a hospitable environment for new businesses.Resources for Starting a Small Business
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