Throughout my career, I've done some development and consulting projects in addition to my full time job. I've always just reported the income on my personal income tax forms. Now that I am getting more serious and hope to scale up my outside work (think Micro ISV) to hopefully one day replace my day job, I am considering incorporating. I don't expect that I will have significant income or expenses for a while, but it seems like forming a corporation is a logical first step to get things going and to put things in place for my future ambitions.
My biggest concern is how much administrative and paperwork that I am creating for myself. I've heard that a business in the US needs to file quarterly tax returns, and that seems like a major hassle. Also, I'm sure there are other administrative things that corporations have to do throughout the year that might be a burden given that my time will be scarce and better spent on getting the software to market.
The main point of my question was whether it was worth it to set up the shell of the company in advance when I don't really know yet if it will be a viable business idea. I just want a feel for what the minimum requirements (time and costs) are to maintain a company that is effectively idle.
So my question is this:
After I set up a corporation, what types of things (minimum) am I going to have to do on a regular basis to maintain my legal status as a corporation and comply with any applicable laws?
Note: I'm not looking for internal things associated with running a business like book-keeping, invoicing, or marketing. I am asking about Government and legal compliance issues that every company (even a single person company with no revenues yet) will have to do regularly.