There are no state licensing requirements for mail order businesses themselves. However, the kind of products being sold could be regulated at the state or federal level:
Food that is not pre-packaged:
Missouri Department of Health
Jefferson City MO 65102-0570
web at: www.dhss.mo.gov/LPHA/LPHAs.html
Live plants and/or flowers:
Missouri Department of Agriculture
Plant Industries Division
PO Box 630
Jefferson City MO 65102
Web at: mda.mo.gov/plants
Any liquor related items:
Missouri Department of Public Safety
Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control
PO Box 837
Jefferson City MO 65102
Web at: www.atc.dps.mo.gov
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco. Firearms and Explosives
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
650 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Room 8290
Washington, DC 20226
Web at: www.atf.treas.gov
St. Louis, MO Office: 314/539-2251
Kansas City, MO Office: 816/421-2014
Web at: www.atf.gov/field/index.htm
Additional information can be found from the Federal Trade Commission; example Advertising and Marketing on the Internet.
To order their publications:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania, NW, Room H-130
Washington, DC 20580-0001
Web at: www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm
Anyone conducting business in the State of Missouri under a name other than
their own legal name (e.g., John Doe), must register the business name with
the Missouri Secretary of State. Missouri law allows businesses to operate under
four forms or organization:
- Sole proprietorship
- Partnership - general and limited
- Corporation - C-Corp; S-Corp; Professional, Not-for-Profit; Foreign Corporation
- Limited Liability Company - LLC
Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages and there are many
modifications and variations within these forms. The key to selection revolves
around the concept of liability and taxation. You must decide which of these
structures best suits your business. In choosing your business structure, consult
with a qualified accountant and/or attorney who are familiar with your resources
A description of the forms of organization and some of the advantages and disadvantages
are discussed in Legal Structures, Licenses
and Taxes and Starting
a New Business in Missouri.
and Registration Checklist is a guide to help you with the licensing and
registration requirements for starting your new business.
You can download forms on the web at: www.sos.mo.gov/business/corporations/forms.asp
or request them from the Secretary of State's Office at (573) 751-3200.
Understanding the taxes that apply to your business and how to meet the legal
requirements of those taxes is critical. Consultation with an accountant or
attorney is advisable.
Tax considerations are essential during the formation of a new business and
during its entire life. When a business is just starting out, it may have little
or no income or assets and the choice of structure may not seriously affect
its tax liability. However, as the business grows, the tax implications become
Choosing a particular structure does not necessarily determine how the business
will be taxed. The table found in Starting a New Business in Missouri identifies the state and federal forms that must
be filed for different business structures and compares the tax liabilities
for the most common business structures.
Tax responsibility includes federal, state and local taxes. As a business owner
you will be responsible for income taxes, payroll taxes, property tax and other
Businesses making retail sales must obtain a Missouri Retail
Sales License from the Missouri Department of Revenue. A bond, based on projected
monthly gross sales is posted at the time of application. An application form
(Form 2643) can be obtained from the Dept. of Revenue on the web at dor.mo.gov/forms
or by calling (800) 877-6881. Those businesses buying wholesale or operating solely as a wholesaler should complete a Form 149 Sales/Use Tax Exemption Certificate (see: www.dor.mo.gov/tax/business/sales/forms/149f.pdf ) and provide it to their supplier showing the sale
is exempt from sales tax.
For more information on taxes and access to printable copies of the required
forms visit: Doing Business in Missouri: Taxes.
a copy of Employer's
Tax Guide from your local IRS office or call (800) 829-3676.
"Circular E" explains federal tax withholding and Social Security tax requirements
for employers as well as containing up-to-date withholding tables for you to
use to determine how much federal income tax and Social Security tax is to be
withheld from each employee's paycheck.
What is involved?
- Once you begin paying salary or wages to employees, you must collect taxes
from your employees. The primary taxes are: federal and state income taxes,
Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes.
- If you have not already done so, you must apply for a federal
employer identification number (EIN), Form SS-4. The EIN number is used
to identify your business on payroll and income tax returns, as well as for
other federal tax purposes. Corporations and partnerships must file Form SS-4
even if they have no employees. The IRS now offers an online
- Each employee completes an I-9
Employment Eligibility Verification Form and a W-4
- Missouri require that all employers in Missouri report each newly hired
employee to the Department of Revenue within 20 calendar days of hire.
For more information on your responsibilities as an employer, please contact
your local Missouri Career Center (formerly Job Service). To locate the nearest
office, check the phone book or call 1-888-728-JOBS or visit www.missouricareersource.com.
For a complete discussion on hiring employees, your responsibilities, and access
to the required forms, refer to: Doing
Business in Missouri: Hiring Employees.
You may also find the following information helpful as you begin your business:
- First Steps to Starting
a Business is a new online class offering an introduction of the critical first steps associated with starting a new business. The course includes advice on 'go' or 'no-go.' Participants will work online at their own pace to assess their strengths and weaknesses in terms of business ownership, learn about the importance of planning, discuss legal and regulatory requirements and identify sources of financing.
a New Business in Missouri is an excellent publication on the process of
starting and operating a business in Missouri.
Your Business Idea is a simple questionnaire-formatted document
that helps you think through the elemental considerations in starting a business.
- Guide to Writing a Business Plan provides a short, but thorough introduction to
the process of writing a business plan and provides a simple outline of the
contents of a standard plan.
- MissouriBusiness.net is a
network of key business resource providers in Missouri. The website contains
a vast array of helpful documents, links and information on starting and operating
your small business as well as a calendar
of upcoming training and educational events
throughout Missouri. To find a business counselor near you, refer to www.missouribusiness.net/sbtdc/centers.asp
- The Missouri Environmental Assistance Center helps businesses. improve business efficiency and save money through reducing or eliminating waste understand and navigate the complicated area of environmental permits and regulations. The website offers information on environmental compliance, pollution prevention and energy efficiency.
- Contact your local (county, city, township) government offices early in
the planning stages of your business. The requirement for local licenses and
permits vary by county and city. Most cities, and some counties, require businesses
to be licensed. Check with the city business/merchant license office and/or
the county collector's office for the requirements in your area. Be sure
to check with the local city and/or county planning/zoning department to make
sure that the site you have selected for your business is zoned to accommodate
the activities of your business. These offices can be found in your local
Lawyer Referral Service
- Kansas City: (816) 221-9473 (Clay, Jackson, Platte & Ray counties)
- St. Louis City & County: (314) 621-6681
- Springfield/Greene County: (417) 831-2783
- Rest of Missouri: (573) 636-3635
- Missouri Society
of Accountants (800) 959-4276
- The Missouri Society of CPAs (800) 264-7966