South Carolina 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 South Carolina Department of Revenue 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 county, city or town where the business will operate. Start with a statewide corporate business name search of registered companies:

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 simple Google searches for “Crystal Clean Maid Service+South Carolina” 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 name you want or similar names are being used in your state, county or city.

Residential house cleaning businesses should check with the local city or county clerk’s office for Assumed Name or DBA (“doing business as” name) requirements. Some counties, cities and towns require and register DBA’s, others do not.

In the state of South Carolina, filing an Assumed Name or DBA or  does not guarantee a business sole rights to the use of that name. Other businesses in the state may also register the same Assumed Name. Registered businesses are expected to legally defend their Assumed Names.

Business License Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners do not have to apply for a state business license in South Carolina.  Most cities, towns and counties in South Carolina require business licenses. In many cases, a separate business license is required for each town, city or county in which the cleaning service operates.  Search for a town or city in the South Carolina Municipal Directory. (Type your city or town name in the Search field.)

Nine counties in South Carolina require paid business licenses:

Beaufort County: https://www.beaufortcountysc.gov/business-license/

Charleston County: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/93/Business-Licenses-Fees-Permits

Dorchester County: https://www.dorchestercountysc.gov/government/business-services/business-license

Horry County: https://www.horrycounty.org/Departments/Business-License

Jasper County: http://www.jaspercountysc.gov/services/business-licenses

Marion County: https://marionsc.org/building

Orangeburg County: https://sc-orangeburgcounty.civicplus.com/168/Business-Licenses

Richland County: http://www.richlandcountysc.gov/Government/Departments/Licensing-Registration/Business-Service-Center

Sumter County: https://www.sumtersc.gov/business-license

Other South Carolina counties also require businesses to register, though registration is generally free.  Find a local County Office.

In South Carolina, a general partnership is created when two or more owners form an oral or written agreement to start a business together. General partners are not required to file any documents with the Secretary of State. It is advisable for general partners to file an Assumed Name or DBA in the county where the business is based, if available. A written partnership agreement drawn up by a lawyer is important for both or all partners. Partnership agreements do not have to be filed with the state.

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

House cleaning businesses do not have to register for a state retail license or collect sales tax.

Residential house cleaning services are not taxable in South Carolina. House cleaning businesses do not have to collect and send sales taxes to the Department of Revenue.

House cleaning businesses may have to pay Business Personal Property Tax (BPP) to the state or a local county in South Carolina. Business Personal Property Tax is a tax on the furniture, fixtures, and equipment that are owned and used in a business. Any assets claimed on the business’ income taxes should be reported on the BPP tax return.

On the BPP return, the business owner reports the total cost of the assets, the income tax depreciation, and the net depreciated value. An assessed value is then sent to the county where the business is located. The county will send a BPP tax notice after September 1. The payment is due on or before the following January 15 of each year. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your business must pay this tax.

Register for the BPP through the South Carolina Department of Revenue online portal (MyDORWAY).

Sole proprietors and general partners pay tax on business income to the state of South Carolina through their personal state tax return. Sole proprietors and general partners are responsible for paying estimated self-employment income taxes in South Carolina (on Form SC1040ES) similar to the way self employment taxes are paid to the federal government. Get more information about estimated tax requirements by calling the South Carolina Department of Revenue at (844) 898-8542  Option1.

South Carolina general partnerships that file a Federal partnership information Form 1065, may need to file state income tax Form SC1065. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your partnership must file those returns.

Selected South Carolina City Licenses

Charleston Business License: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/index.aspx?nid=136

Columbia Business License: https://www.columbiasc.net/business-licensing/new

Greenville Business License: https://www.greenvillesc.gov/340/Business-Licenses

Mount Pleasant Business License: https://www.tompsc.com/127/Business-License

North Charleston Business License: https://www.northcharleston.org/business/business-in-north-charleston/business-licenses/

Rock Hill Business License: https://rockhillgis.cityofrockhill.com/permitting/?Portal=License

Summerville Business License: https://www.summervillesc.gov/177/Business-Licenses

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