2

I started a software development contract and decided to open a separate bank account just for this activity. The bank gave me a list of required documents needed when opening a business account for sole proprietors (SP), which include:

  • Business License (or similar permit/certificate)
  • SP Resolution of Authority

I also insurance and other such items mentioned in relation to this topic.

I had been under the impression that a SP doesn't need any permits, licenses etc (unless required by the specific activity, but I assume not in my case), in order to avoid any overhead and make it as easy to operate as possible, but this is starting to look complicated.

My questions:

  1. Do I need to obtain any governmental license, permit, etc to operate as an individual software contractor (BTW, I live in CA and work remotely for a company located in a different state).
  2. Do I need an account different from my personal checking account, and if so, what type - personal or business?
  3. I requested and received an EIN which I used on the W9 form I sent the company, instead of my SSN . Does using this EIN make it more likely to be required the items above, given that EIN is normally associated with a business, and SSN with an individual?

Thanks.

1

Do I need to obtain any governmental license, permit, etc to operate as an individual software contractor

Software development is not normally a regulated activity (unlike selling insurance, stocks and bonds, pharmaceuticals, used cars, tattooing people, etc.) so is not subject to special licensing rules.

Many will recommend that when you start a business, you separate it from your personal finances by creating a separate 'legal entity', such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation (i.e. "incorporated"). This gets more important when you get bigger and are taking money from people to invest in your business (shareholders) and employing people.

The main benefit of a separate legal entity is if the business venture fails (e.g. becomes insolvent), your personal assets are not within reach of the creditors because the property of the company and your property is separate. There can be other benefits in terms of taxation and one could argue that a company looks more professional than an individual (sometimes called a "sole trader" or "sole proprietor").

However, that is not necessary. You can still operate as an individual. If you however wish to use a different name (e.g. "Acme Software") you may need to register the name with your state as a d/b/a (doing business as).

Answer: No

The resolution of sole proprietor appears to be a form that states you are establishing a Sole Proprietorship with a given name. I am not clear about this, but I think it is necessary when the sole proprietorship is operating under a different name.

Do I need an account different from my personal checking account, and if so, what type - personal or business?

No. If you want to keep payments separate (it might make bookkeeping easier at tax time) you can, but a business account is not necessary. It is necessary however if you are opening an account for an LLC.

I requested and received an EIN that I'm using instead of my SSN on the invoices sent to the company. Does using this EIN make it more likely to be required the items above, given that EIN is normally associated with a business, and SSN with an individual?

You generally only need these if you are paying other people (e.g. issuing W-2s or 1099s). You shouldn't need to put your SSN or EIN on invoices, they just need to make the check payable to you personally. However, as you are not incorporated and it is in the course of business, if the amount is over $600, your client will need to issue a 1099, and will need your social security or EIN number.

3
  • You are right, I misspoke, I put the EIN on the W9 form not the invoices. I'll edit my question to correct this. – Ady Apr 27 '19 at 2:25
  • @Ady: When the answer says "you don't need licenses" he means that the government does not require you to have them. The bank still can (and another bank might not; shop around). – Ben Voigt Apr 27 '19 at 5:27
  • When operating as John Smith, you MUST have a separate bank account. (It's pointless saying "in the legal minutia, you don't actually have to legally." You might as well say "in the legal minutia, you don't actually have to legally keep receipts of expenses", which you don't really have to under precedent, but, you "MUST" keep receipts. – Fattie Dec 16 '20 at 18:40
0

The simple answers to your questions are

1 - No

2 - YES, ABSOLUTELY, DEFINITELY, 100%

3 - Absolutely no difference.

On the ground:

The fact is I would say most, if not "the vast majority" of programmers in Cali and other US states, simply operate as "themselves".

When you use TaxAct in March (or .. June, or whatever :/ ) to finally do your taxes, click the "self-employed" button, pay TaxAct an extra $25, and that's all there is to it. End of story.

Hot tip:

A few folks bother to get an "LLC" instead of just being "John Smith", perhaps thinking it looks slightly more professional. But if I think of blokes I know that make TotallyRidiculous™ amounts of money each year, they are just "John Smith". Nobody cares.

Tip: it's surprisingly expensive to set up and maintain an LLC. I say, why waste the odd thousand bucks?

You didn't hear this here:

Every programmer, well human, in the world asks, how aggressive can one be in deducting business expenses? Everyone who ponders "should I get an LLC or just be John Smith," deep down wants to know whether you can, you know, Deduct More Stuff if it's an LLC. The answer is a plain "no" (if anything it draws attention, I'd say). As a John Smith you can try to deduct anything you feel you should try to deduct, just the same. Regarding this critical issue, there is no difference.


Do note this answer from a handsome list member, you absolutely DO NOT need an ovcerpriced "business-labelled" bank account. https://money.stackexchange.com/a/133459/41786

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.