As a small business owner, you can pretty much guarantee that for whichever stage of business operation you are going through — hiring your first employee, filing your first W2, or applying for a loan — there is going to be a barrage of forms requiring your attention.
Dealing with the piles of government forms is an intimidating and frustrating chore for home-based business owners, microbusinesses, and smaller businesses who often don’t have the luxury of passing off the responsibility of day-to-day administration to the appropriate HR, accounting, or payroll department. And many small business owners aren’t even aware of all the critical forms that need to be processed to ensure the legality and regulatory compliance of their business.
There are some centralized resources that make it much easier to find and submit the right governmental forms.
Connecting Small Business to Government Forms – From I-9 to W-9 and Beyond
The good news is that the government has leveraged its growing Web-based citizen services to connect small business owners to essential regulatory and other government forms needed to start, grow and operate your small business.
Yes, agencies such as the IRS and SBA have housed agency-specific forms on their Web site for many years. But only relatively recently has relief come to small business owners in the form of two government-run Web sites – Business.gov and Forms.gov – that combine government forms and resources from multiple agencies in one place.
Below is an overview of two essential government resources for form-seekers everywhere.
Business.gov – Essential Government Forms for the Small Business
The SBA’s Business.gov Web site was originally meant to be a portal for federal forms. While it has evolved into a critical resource for all small business growth and operational resources, it’s still a great one-stop shop for government forms.
Business.gov’s Essential Government Forms page has information on how you can obtain important business forms for each stage of your business.
Here’s a summary of the key forms on the site:
- Forms for Starting your Business – Includes links to government forms needed to register and incorporate your business, apply for an EIN, process your state tax registration, as well as search tools and links for locating specific business licenses and permits.
- Forms for Financing Your Business – This checklist includes forms you typically need to apply for small business loans and grants, including those guaranteed by SBA.
- Operating your Business – These forms largely relate to small business taxation but also include links to the forms you’ll need for patenting, copywriting and trademark applications.
- Closing your Business – Selling your business is a paperwork intensive process. Here you’ll find all the applicable IRS forms and a “Closing a Business Checklist”. If your business is facing bankruptcy, you can also find bankruptcy-specific U.S. court forms and IRS tax forms.
Forms.gov – Agency-Specific Forms
If you know what agency you need to interact with to obtain a business form, for example the Fair Trade Commission or Department of Labor, your best resource is Forms.gov.