Maryland Checklist for New Businesses

Starting a business is an exciting and challenging undertaking. To help ensure your business' success, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the basic requirements for starting a business in Maryland.  

NOTE: This page is not intended to be a comprehensive guide and should not be used as the sole reference when starting a business. Regulations and other legal requirements change constantly and there may be some obligations for your specific business activity not listed below. We strongly suggest you consult an attorney, accountant or other business consulta



Select​ & Create Your Business Structure

The first step in establishing a business in the State of Maryland is to determine which form of business structure is most appropriate for your operations. The four most common forms of business structure are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability company. Each structure has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be considered. Choosing the appropriate organizational structure for your business is one of the most important decisions made and may require advice from an attorney, accountant or other professional advisor. ​

Once you have chosen a structure for your business, the next step is to complete the necessary registration requirements. ​

Legal Entities (Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, LLP, LP)

For information about registration requirements for legal entities, contact:
State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT)
Corporate Charter Division

700 East Pratt Street, 2nd Floor, Suite 2700,
Baltimore,Maryland 21202

Telephone: 410-767-1340

Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships
Sole proprietorships or general partnerships require no legal entry formalities except compliance with State and local licensing and taxation requirements.  For information about registration requirements  contact: 
SDAT Business Personal Property Division
Telephone: 410-767-1170

Register Your Business Name

Naming the business is a critical step. You can select a business name yourself, or you can hire a professional to do the search on availability and file the necessary forms. For information on name availability and forms contact: 
SDAT Corporate Name Availability  
Telephone: 410-767-1330 
You may register a "trade name" with the Department of Assessments and Taxation. A trade name, is the name by which a business is known to the public to distinguish it from another business or person. 
For information on trade name availability and forms contact: 
SDAT Trade Name Search and Registration 
Telephone: 410-767-1801 

Annual Reports

Important Information for Businesses: ​​Starting in 2018, our Department will be updating the paperwork that all entities are required to file annually in order to legally operate in Maryland. "Form 1" has been retired, and will now be separated into an "Annual Report" and a "Personal Property Tax Return." More information will be provided shortly.

All business entities formed, qualified, or registered to do business in Maryland must file an Annual Report every year. If the business can answer "Yes" to either of the following questions, they must also file a Personal Property Tax Return with their annual report:
  • ​Does the business own, lease, or use personal property located in Maryland?
  • Does the business maintain a trader's license with a local unit of government in Maryland?

All Annual Reports and Personal Property Tax Returns must be submitted by April 15 annually, unless you request an extension here. If you created your business on or after January 1, 2018, you are not required to file an Annual Report or Personal Property Tax Return until April 15, 2019.

Business Personal Property Tax Information

In Maryland, businesses must pay an annual tax based on the value of their business personal property (furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, equipment, etc.). The Department of Assessments and Taxation administers the valuation process while the counties and towns collect the tax based on the location of the property.
The Department automatically registers corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships for this tax when these legal entities form. All other businesses (sole proprietorships, general partnerships) that own or lease personal property or need a business license are required to:
1) obtain an identification number by registering with the Department of Assessments and Taxation
2) file an annual business personal property tax return.

For information regarding business personal property assessments contact:  
SDAT Business Personal Property Division
700 East Pratt Street, 2nd Floor, Suite 2700,
Baltimore,Maryland 21202​
Telephone: 410-767-1170

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