Massachusetts law about small business

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

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 bets

Business resources,
Covers starting a business; tax information; licenses and permits; doing business in Massachusetts; getting business support; and business laws and regulations.

Doing business in Massachusetts,
Covers resources to successfully running a business in Massachusetts including: taxes, unemployment benefits, banking for small businesses, and environmental assistance for small businesses.

Starting your business, Executive Offices of Housing and Economic Development & Labor and Workforce Development.
Covers step-by-step guide; market research; counseling and assistance; funding and financing; regulations and permits; employer regulations; and tax rules and regulations.

U.S. Small Business Administration 
Includes COVID relief options. Great site for business planning and management. Includes resources for starting a business, paying taxes, managing employees and much more. Also provides guidance for particular types of business owners, such as women, veterans and minorities. Extremely broad and deep coverage of small business issues. In particular, see Small business guide.

Home businesses/occupation

If you want to start a home office or business you will need to check local ordinances and bylaws for zoning restrictions, health regulations, employees, signage, parking, and other issues.  Search your local city and town ordinances and bylaws or contact your town hall.

The 5 licenses and permits you need for your home-based business
Find out which ones are required for you to operate legally.

Massachusetts zoning manual, MCLE, 2021-
 § 12.3.2 Home Occupations.

Small business taxation

Every nonprofit's tax guide : how to keep your tax-exempt status & avoid IRS problems, by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available at link with library card).

Home business tax deductions : keep what you earn by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2023. (eBook available at link with library card).

Working for yourself: law & taxes for independent contractors, freelancers & gig workers of all types by Stephen Fishman, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available here with library card).

Web sources

Business licenses and permits,
Many businesses need licenses or permits to operate in Massachusetts. Find out if you need one to open your doors in the Bay State.

Doing business in Massachusetts: A guide to U.S. and Massachusetts law for non-U.S. businesses, Foley Hoag, LLP, January 28, 2016.
"This guide is intended to provide foreign business-people with an introduction to the basic kinds of laws and regulations that affect the conduct of business in the United States, and particularly in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Step by step guide to starting a business, Mass. Office of Business Development.
Covers choosing an entity type, choosing a name, obtaining licenses and permits, DBA certificates, obtaining an EIN, and registering with the Department of Revenue.

Print sources


Last updated: May 23, 2023

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