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 June 1, 1999

Top 10 questions about starting a business in Colorado

1. Who should I call first?

The Colorado Business Assistance Center (BAC) is the best place to begin when starting a business in Colorado. Call (303) 592-5920 or 800-333-7798. The BAC provides comprehensive federal, state and local licensing information.

2. How do I get a state business license?

The state of Colorado does not issue or require a general business license. Licenses are issued by various state agencies for specific types of business activities and professions. Contact the Colorado BAC for specific information.

3. How do I register my business name or get a DBA?

Corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies file organizational paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State, (303) 894-2251. Sole proprietors, general partnerships and all other organizations register trade names with the Department of Revenue, (303) 232-2434.

To do a name search in Colorado, a business should contact both offices. Once a name has been filed with the Secretary of State, no other business may register with the same name or a “deceptively similar” name. Trade name registration with the Department of Revenue does not establish exclusive rights, however, it is required when doing business under any name other than the first and last name of the owner or organizer.

To check names filed with the Department of Revenue, call (303) 232-2434 or visit a local taxpayer service office in Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Pueblo or Grand Junction. To check on names filed with the Secretary of State, send a request by mail to 1560 Broadway, Suite 200. Include a check for $3 to cover the cost of the search. You may also fax your request to (303) 894-2242. Include your full name and mailing address so that you can be billed for the search. You may also conduct a search in person at the Broadway address in Denver. There is no charge when you conduct your own search.

4. How do I get a state tax ID?

The state of Colorado does not issue a single state tax ID like the federal government does. Businesses selling tangible products should get a state sales tax license from the Department of Revenue. Businesses with employees should open state wage withholding tax and unemployment insurance tax accounts. The Colorado Business Registration Form, CR100, may be used to establish all three. To get a CR100, call the BAC or the Department of Revenue or you can download the CR100 by accessing the Colorado Business Resource Guide through the SBDC Web site, www.state.co.us/gov_dir/oed/sbdc.html.

5. What is the sales tax rate in Colorado?

The state sales tax rate in Colorado is 3 percent. However, sales tax is also collected for the counties, cities and special districts. The exact sales tax rate is determined by adding the various rates for where a sales transaction is completed. The state collects the majority of all sales taxes. However, there are 42 home rule cities that require separate licensing.

6. Where do I obtain workers’ compensation insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance is purchased through private insurance companies. There is not a state fund. The Colorado Legislature created Colorado Compensation Insurance (CCI), a non-profit insurance carrier, to sell workers’ comp. Call (303) 782-4000 or 1-800-873-7242. Many new businesses frequently obtain their workers’ comp through CCI; however, it not required that new business use CCI.

7. How much is the unemployment insurance tax in Colorado?

New businesses pay a state unemployment insurance tax rate of 2.8 percent on the first $10,000 in wages for each employee per year. An additional federal unemployment insurance tax of 0.8 percent is paid on the first $7,000. After three years, its claims history will be evaluated to determine if the state tax rate should change. The state rate for business with zero claims is normally changed to 0.1 percent. When an existing business changes ownership, the state tax rate will transfer to the new owners.

8. Where do I get a government grant to start a new business?

Unfortunately, there are really no government grants, state or federal, available for starting a business. There are very specific targeted government grants, but they rarely apply to start-ups. These grants — Small Business Innovative Research Grants (SBIR) — are usually issued for a short period by a federal agency that is seeking research and development in specific areas, including military weapons development, biotechnology and other high-tech fields.

9. Where do I apply for a government loan?

The vast majority of government loans programs, state and federal, are what are called guaranteed loans. To apply for these loans, a business owner should contact a bank or other financial institution first. The lender will then apply to the government agency for a guarantee on the loan.

10. Where do I get basic information about the quality of life and the cost of living?

The Demography Section of the Division of Local Government in the Department of Local Affairs, (303) 866-4147 has population and income statistics. The Labor Market Information in the Department of Labor and Employment, (303) 937-4935 has information on employment statistics. he Business Statistics section of the Department of Revenue, (303) 866-3809, has information on tax collections and retail sales. Each of these agencies and several others can be accessed through the state of Colorado Web site, www.state.co.us.

1. Who should I call first?

The Colorado Business Assistance Center (BAC) is the best place to begin when starting a business in Colorado. Call (303) 592-5920 or 800-333-7798. The BAC provides comprehensive federal, state and local licensing information.

2. How do I get a state business license?

The state of Colorado does not issue or require a general business license. Licenses are issued by various state agencies for specific types of business activities and professions. Contact the Colorado BAC for specific information.

3. How do I register my business name or get a…

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