Retail License Requirements

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A retail license is necessary in order to conduct the sale of tangible property in any state in the U.S. These licenses allow states to monitor the lawful sale of goods within its borders and ensure that all business owners live up to ethical and character standards expected of prominent members of the community.

Payment of State Taxes

If you owe any back state taxes regarding income or through a previous business, you won't be able to get a retail license for a new business. You must pay all back state taxes prior to the application for a retail license and you may not owe any back taxes regardless of the state you are starting a business in. Information on your tax status is available through a given state's Department of Revenue.

Seller's Permit and Tax Identification

Some states such as California require a business owner to obtain a seller's permit before a retail license will be issued. A seller's permit is available through the state Board of Equalization and is necessary if you intend to conduct business selling tangible property within the state. Through this process you must also secure a Tax ID number, which allows you to collect sales tax and withhold taxes from employee's paychecks. You must also have an address for where your business is located.

Wholesale License

If your retail business intends to buy and re-sell clothing or other items, you must have a wholesale license before a retail license will be granted. In states such as Delaware you may apply for a license through the state Department of Revenue and pay a licensing fee that works off of a percentage of your monthly gross receipts from the sale of tangible property. This licensing fee is paid on a monthly basis.

Retail License

You may apply for a retail license once all other permits are in place with the given state's Department of Taxes and Licenses. An application fee of between $50 to $65 will be required at the time of your filing and is nonrefundable. On the application you must identify what type of retail business you own, such as a sole proprietorship or partnership and also include other items such as any criminal history you may have.


About the Author

Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.

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