Business location: Moving a freelance business

Things have been crazy in my house these last few weeks — my husband and I bought a house (yay!). Along with all of the packing and moving, and other exciting moving-related things going on, there is also the matter of moving my freelance business location.

I work from home and in Washington state, when your business moves, you have to notify the Secretary of State. You are also required to notify the IRS if you have an EIN (but only if you wish to continue receiving correspondence).

So what exactly happens when your freelance business moves locations? Let me walk you through it.

My DOR

You may have heard me mention the Department of Revenue of Washington state website before, but if you haven’t, let me give you a quick rundown. On My DOR you can manage all of your state-level business licensing and tax needs, such as:

  • Filing a tax return.
  • Getting or renewing a business license.
  • Accessing a reseller permit.
  • Filing UCP holder reports.
  • Requesting a tax status letter.
  • Accessing secure messages.

For a comprehensive list click here.

My DOR has a fairly intuitive set up and really isn’t that difficult to navigate once you’ve been there a couple times. Kudos to the state of Washington on this one.

Changing your address

The actual process is fairly easy. From your business and licensing home page there is a menu on the right-hand side of the screen. To make changes, you simply navigate through the options, beginning with “Apply for or Update Business License.”

Just follow the onscreen prompts and supply information when needed. In this case, there are four steps:

  1. Get started.
  2. Select a business.
  3. Select Location.
  4. Select update(s).

It’s important to note that there may be multiple options that apply to your business in each section, so read through each section carefully. For example, in the Select updates section, not only do I need to select “Change business location (the business is moving,” I also have to select “Add city endorsements (do business in a new city)” since I’m moving to a new city.

Side note: Each city within Washington state requires different endorsements to do business within city limits. Luckily, My DOR has all of those bundled into its site.

Once you’ve completed all four steps, you’ll get a chance to review the changes you would like to make before submitting. And to submit online, there’s a processing fee, so have your checkbook handy.

Problems

This site is great if you have a good understanding of licensing minutiae. I don’t. And there is very little help in the “Help” section of the site. Oh — and you have to leave your progress in order to navigate to the help page. Bummer.

Luckily, this is a thing and can be found on the Doing Business page of My DOR as a hyperlink labeled “Small business guidance (Business.wa.gov)”. You can ask your questions using live support chat, email, sms, or by phone at 1.800.917.0043.

It’s almost as if someone looked at business licensing in Washinton and said, “You know what? This is some complicated stuff. Let me help.” And then they did.  

Oh, (Big) Brother

If there’s one thing that can be counted on, it’s that the larger the government institution, the more complicated the process. Or rather, defining the process.

I could not find anything pertaining to changing my business location on the IRS site by myself. I had to google it. This is what I eventually found: There is a change of address form (form 8822-B) for businesses. Once I knew what I was looking for, a simple site search for “form 8822-B” got me where I needed to go.

You can also write to the IRS informing them of your change of location. Be sure to include:

  • Your full name.
  • Your new and old address.
  • Your social security number, individual taxpayer identification number, or employer identification number (EIN).
  • Your signature.

Either way, you have to mail all of this to the address provided on the change of address form. It takes four to six weeks to process. There is no option to submit online that I could find, but, no processing fees.

The IRS also recommends changing your business address with the post office in case you receive any IRS correspondence during processing. Apparently, not all post offices forward government checks (think tax refunds). Who knew?

Protect your info

Pro tip: Do NOT fill out any forms with your EIN or any other personal information for government purposes on any site that does not end in .gov. There are too many scams out there.

My initial google search turned up a site that offered all of the above information along with a link to the proper forms — it also asked for my EIN to log me in.

Since I had been previously frustrated over the IRS’s lack of a business login portal, I found this strange. So I scrutinized the URL and discovered that while there was .gov in the URL, it ended in .net. I’ve never seen a government site ending in .net, so I noped out. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I’m OK with that. Protect your info, folks.

The highlights

Notifying the pertinent parities of a business location move turned out to be a chore. But really, no more of a chore than discontinuing and starting utility services — once I knew what I needed to do.

The good: Washington state really helps its business owners out by providing resources via Business.wa.gov. If you do business in Washington and have any questions, this is where you find answers.

The bad: The IRS website is not so user friendly and has no such resource available (that I could find). You have to google it and vet your sources. Be wary of third-party sites.  

The ugly: Processing times vary. With the state, it’s a couple of days if submitted online. With the IRS, since it’s all done via mail, it’s several weeks. I recommend getting ahead of your move.


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