Start a Business in Pennsylvania

Guide to Starting a Business in Pennsylvania

Whether you are following the EverEmployed program or going it on your own, many entrepreneurs choose to operate as an S-corp for a number of reasons. While we can’t offer legal advice, here are general instructions and resources on setting up an S-corp in Pennsylvania. If you are still unsure as to what an S-Corp is, please refer to our article, “What is an S-Corp?

It Starts with a Name

The name chosen for a Pennsylvania corporation must include one of the following words (or an abbreviated version of them): Incorporated (Inc.), Corporation (Corp.), Limited (Ltd.), Company (Co.). You may also choose from Association, Fund or Syndicate.

The chosen name must also be recognizably different from any other name registered with the Department of State. You may check to see if the name you have chosen is available by searching the Department of State records. Name reservations can be made through the Department of State by mailing or faxing a written statement of request. There is not an official form for this purpose, but the reservation will hold the name for 120 days.

Then Comes the Paperwork

The Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Corporations will only legally recognize corporations that have filed an Articles of Incorporation from. This form includes states the corporations’ name and address, The number of shares the corporation will issue, the name and address of each incorporator, and a designated agent for service of process. The agent for service of process can be an individual or another business that agrees to accept legal paperwork on your corporations behalf. You can not serve as your own agent for service of process.

Along with the Articles of Incorporation, you must file a New Entity Docketing Statement. This form states the corporation name, the purpose of the business, and the name and address of the person responsible for tax reports. The articles and the docketing statement must be filed by mail.

Either the intent to file, or the actual filing of the articles must be published in two newspapers of general circulation. These ads will contain the name of the corporation, and state that the corporation is either already organized, or is to be. Proofs of ads in these publications should be kept with the corporation minutes.

Don’t Forget About Taxes

To be recognized as an S-Corp with the state, you must first elect to be structured that way with the IRS by filing Form 2553: Election by a Small Business Corporation to be signed by each shareholder. This election should be filed within the first 75 days of the start of the corporation.

Each corporation will also want to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS website by filing form SS-4.

Final Steps

Once your S-corp is set up, remember to get a business license in the city you are operating.  Most cities pull data from newly-registered businesses in the state so they can track down who in their city should have a license.  While you can wait for your city to come knocking if you are on a tight budget (and many will simply give you a deadline to get a license), some municipalities may not be so friendly about it.
Please continue on to our “What Do I Do Next?” article for more guidance on where to go from here.
If you have helpful information or insights to add about starting a business in Pennsylvania, feel free to comment below.
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