First Comes a Name
The first step in starting any business is to come up with a name for the company. The New Jersey Division of Revenue requires that a corporate name include one of the following business name designators: Incorporated (Inc.), Corporation (Corp.) or Company (Co.), or Limited (Ltd.).
While the division requires a name designator, it also requires that the following words NOT be used in the name: Banking, Little League, Realtor, Trust, Olympia, Olympic, Cemetery, Insurance.
It is strongly recommended that you verify the selected name is available. If you begin operating under a name that is already taken, your registration will be denied and you will have to start over, and any expense incurred will be paid by the entity. You may perform a name availability search through the Business Records Service. As you search, be sure to be exact. Spacing and punctuation will cause your results to vary.
If you choose to file your paperwork online, an automatic name check will be done to ensure the chosen name is available and not too similar to another company already registered with the division.
You may also chose to reserve a name prior to filing your business registration paperwork. This is done by filing a paper form to the Division of Revenue, and will reserve the name for 120 days. If you go this route, you will not be able to file your business registration online.
Then Comes Paperwork
The first step to becoming legally recognized as a corporation in New Jersey is to file a Certificate of Business Formation with the Division of Revenue. You will be asked to designate the legal structure of the company as well as a registered agent, and a registered mailing address for the company.
The registered agent will serve as a point of contact for the company for any legal notices received. This can be an individual over the age of 18, or another company within the state that agrees to serve in this capacity. The filing fee for this form is $125 and can be filed online or by downloading the Business Registration Packet.
To complete registering your business with the state, you must also file Form NJ-REG for tax purposes. If you have not yet obtained an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, you may apply by filling out this form. The Certificate of Business Formation and the NJ-REG Form may be submitted together, but if they are not, Form NJ-REG must be filed within 60 days of the formation forms.
Lastly, the Division of Revenue requires every corporation operating in New Jersey to file an annual report. This report must be filed online, and is due the last day of the month of the anniversary of formation.
Then Comes Taxes
To operate as an S-Corp in New Jersey, once you have filed all forms for business registration, you will need to file Form 2553: Election by a Small Business Corporation with the IRS. This form needs to be signed by all shareholders and must be filed within two months and 15 days of the beginning of your first tax year.
You will also need to complete the New Jersey S Corporation Election Form with the Division of Revenue.
Once your S-corp is set up, remember to get a business license in the city you are operating. Most cities pull data from newly-registered businesses in the state so they can track down who in their city should have a license. While you can wait for your city to come knocking if you are on a tight budget (and many will simply give you a deadline to get a license), some municipalities may not be so friendly about it.