I Wade Into the Shallow End of Starting a Business

This blog may turn into The Amusing Tale of a Naïf At Large in the World of Business and Tax Law. I went downtown to register for a “seller’s permit.” It was refreshingly free-of-charge, though the fine print held the threat that the government might force me to put up a security deposit in case my business flops before I have a chance to pay sales taxes.

What does a seller’s permit get me? Two things — one, an obligation to report to the state of California how much I’ve sold and how much sales tax I owe on it; and two, an exemption from sales tax on the supplies that I buy as raw materials for what I intend to sell.

This is turning out to be quite an education. I’m creating just about the most simple business possible — no employees, no storefront, almost nothing in the way of property or inventory, no partners, no stockholders, no fictitious name, no trademark — just me and some stuff I’m going to make and sell. I’m getting a good lesson in just how much red tape we’ve got in our allegedly free market.

Every little helpful-pamphlet-for-the-small-businessperson that I pick up I have to mark up with another handful of “whoops, here’s another regulatory agency I have to register with” notes. I head to another agency for another certificate…


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