Starting a business in Massachusetts

Learn about resources, funding opportunities, tax obligations, and the required steps for starting your business.

Depending on your business, you may need to get a business certificate (DBA) to operate in your city or town. You may also need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), create a MassTaxConnect account, and file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Table of Contents

1. General guidance for starting a business

Explore these resources before starting your business in Massachusetts.

2. Tax obligations and business structures

Your tax obligations depend on the type of business you choose (LLC, sole proprietorship, or corporation, for example), the services or goods you offer, and how many employees you’ll have. This means you need to choose a business structure before you can understand your tax obligations.


Choosing a business structure

The type of business you choose affects your tax obligations. Business types (LLCs, sole proprietorships, corporations, partnerships, etc.) are sometimes called “business structures” or “business subjects.” Choose the business type that gives you the right balance of legal protections and benefits.

Learn about the differences and similarities in business types in this chart offered by the Small Business Administration

Learn about your business tax responsibilities

The income and excise taxes you pay depend on your business structure. Review filing details about your business type including differences in tax structures and when to pay business taxes.

Businesses with employees have specific responsibilities, such as:

Other common business tax obligations include:

See a summary of tax information for new businesses in Massachusetts from the state Department of Revenue. 

3. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is used to identify a business and is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It's also called a Federal Tax Identification Number.

A sole proprietorship with no employees is the only kind of business that does not have to get an EIN.

4. Register your business with MassTaxConnect

If your business is responsible for collecting and paying taxes to the state, you'll need to create a MassTaxConnect account. You can pay business taxes to the Department of Revenue through MassTaxConnect.

5. File with the Secretary of the Commonwealth

First, choose how you will file (online, fax, mail, or in person) with the Sec. of the Commonwealth's Corporations Division.

Next, find your business structure on the Filing by Subject page and follow the listed steps to complete your filing.

Note: The Sec. of the Commonwealth's website refers to business types or structures as "subjects."

6. Get a business certificate (DBA) from your city or town

Get a business certificate (DBA) from your city or town

If your company name is different than your legal business name, you need to apply for a business certificate (also called DBA or “doing business as”) with the town or city where your business is located (M.G.L. ch.110 §5). A business certificate creates a public record of the name and address of the owner(s) of a business.

The legal name for a partnership or corporation is the official name used when incorporating your business. If you’re a sole proprietor, your legal name is your legal business name.


Partnership or corporation
The owners of “Smith & Sons Accounting Services LLC" filed a business certificate so they can operate under the DBA name "FastTax Solutions" for branding and marketing.

Sole proprietorship
John Smith doesn’t need to file a business certificate to operate “John Smith Designs.” He will have to file a business certificate if he wants to operate under the DBA name “Creative Design Services.”

A business certificate is not a license to do business within the town or city you’re located in. Check your town or city’s website for more details about filing a business certificate and any other required local licenses.

Next steps after you launch: Find funding, financing, tax credits, and grant opportunities

After you've launched your business, you can look for grant opportunities and tax credits. 

Many private, nonprofit, and government agencies offer small business loans, regional grants, and other special financing programs. Review common questions about starting and financing a new business published by the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network.

In Massachusetts, employers can take advantage of various tax credits, deductions, and incentives when hiring from specific groups, such as: 

Date published: September 29, 2023
Last updated: February 28, 2024

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