Michigan Cleaning Business Start-up Laws

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This article provides three key state business startup requirements for self-employed sole proprietors and general partners who run residential house cleaning businesses. Information from the Secretary of State, the Michigan Department of Treasury and selected city and county government sources were used to research this article.

Be aware that sole proprietor and general partner startup requirements in this state are always changing. Some requirements even vary from county to county.  It is important that you call or visit your local county or city government to find out local requirements for residential house cleaning businesses and home-based businesses. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal or tax advice.

Business Name Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners who want a business name that does not include the owner(s) full names (for example, Janice Smith’s Cleaning Service or Martha Harris and Tom Graham’s Maid Service) need to find out whether the name they want to use is available in the state of Michigan. It is important to remember that the name must be different from any other name already registered with the state and county. Start with a statewide corporate name search to avoid legal problems and customer confusion.

Then do an online search for names similar to the one you plan to use. For example, if you want to use the name, Crystal Clean Maid Service, do Google searches for “Crystal Clean Maid Service+Michigan” plus Crystal Clean Maid Service+your county” and Crystal Clean Maid Service+your town or city”. Search beyond the first page of results. Go at least five pages deep into the search results to see if the exact name you want or similar names are being used.

If the company name is available, fill out the Certificate of Assumed Name application. Sole proprietorships and copartnerships (general partners) file their names with the county clerk where their business is based.  Additional Assumed Name applications must also be filed in each county in which business the company does business or has an office. The county clerk may keep the original Assumed Name Certificate, so be sure to request a couple of certified copies, one for the bank and one for your business records.   Find a Michigan County Office.

In the state of Michigan, registering an assumed name does not guarantee a business sole rights to the use of that name. However, other businesses in the county or state may not register the same assumed name. Registered businesses are expected to legally defend their trade names.

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Business License Registration

There is no state license required for residential cleaning services in Michigan. Sole proprietorships and copartnerships (general partners) must apply at a local city, township, village or county clerk’s office for a business license.

In Michigan, a copartnership (general partnership) is created when two or more owners form an oral or written agreement to start a business together. General partners must file a “Certificate of Copartnership” or a “Certificate of Persons Conducting Business Under Assumed Name” with the county clerk in all the counties in which the business is to be conducted. A written partnership agreement drawn up by a lawyer is important for both or all partners.

Sole proprietors and general partners may apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS even if they do not plan to hire employees. Getting an EIN may make it easier to open a bank account and reduce your risk of identity theft.  You can apply for an EIN online. In addition, some business registration forms will require a NAICS business classification number for the house cleaning industry.

Business Tax Registration

Register with the Michigan Department of Treasury through the Michigan Treasury Online secure portal.

Residential housecleaning services are not taxable in Michigan. House cleaning services do not have to collect and send sales taxes to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Sole proprietors and general partners pay tax on business income to the state of Michigan through their personal state tax return. Sole proprietors and general partners are responsible for paying estimated self-employment income taxes in Michigan (on Form MI-1040ES) similar to the way self employment taxes are paid to the federal government. Get more information about estimated tax requirements by calling the Michigan Department of Treasury at (517) 636-4486.

Michigan general partnerships that file a Federal partnership information Form 1065, may need to file state income tax Form 4578. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your partnership must file those returns.

Selected Michigan City Licenses

Ann Arbor Business License: https://www.washtenaw.org/2293/Business-Names-DBA

Dearborn Business License: Contact City Clerk’s Office – Telephone: 313-943-2015

Detroit Business License: https://detroitmi.gov/departments/buildings-safety-engineering-and-environmental-department/bseed-divisions/licensing-and-permits#Business-License-Information

Flint Business License: Contact City Clerk’s Office – Telephone: 810-766-7416

Grand Rapids Business License: https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Business/Starting-and-Running-a-Business

Lansing Business License: https://www.lansingmi.gov/171/Business-Licenses

Sterling Heights Business License: https://www.sterling-heights.net/1293/Business-Registration-and-Licensing

Warren Business License: http://www.cityofwarren.org/business-licenses   Read General Business License Information


  1. blank Gina Walls says:

    With house cleaning services I’m confused
    If I want to start a business with just me cleaning wouldn’t that be a sole proprietor or would it not ? Do I need to pay taxes or not ?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Gina,

      If you work as a solo cleaner you could form your business as a sole proprietor or a one person LLC. Forming as a sole proprietor is quick and cheap compared to forming an LLC. However, you will have fewer legal and financial protections.

      Yes, you need to pay taxes. In Michigan, you have to pay both estimated self-employment taxes to the state plus any township or county taxes.

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