Massachusetts law about small business

Information, resources, and both web and print sources on small businesses in Massachusetts.

Small business owners have options regarding the choice of entity for their business. You can find information about sole proprietorships and partnerships here. For corporations or limited liability entities, see Massachusetts law about corporations and Massachusetts law about limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships. For other related legal information, see Massachusetts law about business and occupational licensure.

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

Table of Contents

Best bet

Starting a new business
Step-by-step guide that covers choosing an entity type, choosing a name, obtaining licenses and permits, DBA certificates, obtaining an EIN, and registering with the Department of Revenue.

Massachusetts laws

The best source for providing access to the law itself (statutes, regulations and case law) about small business in Massachusetts is Organizing, Financing, and Advising a Massachusetts Business, published by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (see print sources below).

MGL c. 62B Withholding of taxes on wages and declaration of estimated income tax 

MGL c. 62C Administrative provisions relative to state taxation

MGL c. 62E Wage reporting system

  • MGL c. 62E, § 2 Report of wages paid; hiring reports 
    “Upon the hiring of an employee, such employers . . . shall notify the department of revenue of the hiring of the employee. . .”

MGL c. 64H Tax on retail sales of certain tangible personal property 

MGL c. 108A Partnerships

MGL c. 110, § 5 Certificates of persons conducting businesses; contents; filing; fees; index

Massachusetts regulations

830 CMR 62B Withholding and estimated taxes 

830 CMR 62E Wage reporting system 

830 CMR 64H Sales and use tax 

Web sources

Business guide, U.S. Small Business Administration.
Sections on planning, launching, managing and growing your business. "The Small Business Administration  (SBA) is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses."

How to apply for a business certificate, City of Boston. 
“Doing Business As” (DBA) certificates are filed with the Office of the Town Clerk in the community where the business is principally headquartered. Town Clerks in Massachusetts provide information on how to file online, often including the DBA Form. Other examples are Business Certificate (DBA), Brookline Town Clerk, and Business Certificates (DBA), Whately Town Clerk.

Massachusetts city and town ordinances and by-laws, an index compiled by the Trial Court Law Libraries.
If you want to start a home office or business you will need to check local ordinances and bylaws for zoning restrictions, health regulations, signage, parking, and other issues.

Professional licenses & permits,
This list may not be all inclusive. See also State Licenses: General Listing, Secretary of the Commonwealth. "If you have further questions on the licensing of a business, contact: Citizen Information Service at 617-727-7030 or, 1-800-392-6090, hours: M-F 8:45-5."

Sole proprietorships, Mass. Dept. of Revenue. 
Learn the requirements of operating your business as a sole proprietorship, including registering with MassTaxConnect and making estimated tax payments.

Print sources

Form a partnership : the legal guide for business owners by Denis Clifford, Nolo, 2020. (eBook available with library card).

Home business tax deductions : keep what you earn by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2021. (2024 eBook available with library card).

Legal forms for starting & running a small business by Fred S. Steingold, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available with library card).

Legal guide for starting & running a small business by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2021. (2023 eBook available with library card).

Organizing, financing and advising a Massachusetts business, 1st ed. MCLE, 2022, loose-leaf. Comprehensive in scope. Has a good chapter on choice of business entity. Best source for Massachusetts law about small business.

Small business start-up kit : a step-by-step legal guide by Peri Pakroo, Nolo, 2022.

Summary of basic law, 5th ed., (Mass Practice v. 14C) Thomson Reuters, 2014 with supplement. Chapter 13 Partnership.

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Last updated: June 6, 2024

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