Perhaps you started it as a hobby. You’re doing it part-time. You didn’t expect that you will earn money from it. You’re just doing it at home and you have set up a home office. Now, you want to make your home-based business legal. You want to register your small business. You want to have official receipts and invoices so that you can expand your business, get more customers, and issue such invoices to them. You also want to pay taxes and have income tax returns, which you can use for loan application and other purposes. But you don’t know what to do and don’t know where to go.
If you’re planning to register your home-based business in the Philippines, here are some tips on how to do it:
Know your form of business
In the Philippines, businesses can usually be formed as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. Read this article to learn more about the types of businesses in the Philippines. Partnership and corporations are required to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), while sole proprietorship is required to register with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for it’s trade name registration. The two most common forms of companies in the Philippines are single proprietorship and corporation, although there are also a number of Filipinos who register a company as a partnership.
Corporations are required to submit regular reportorial requirements with the SEC, which may be quarterly or annually depending on the type of industry. On the other hand, proprietorship businesses usually submit requirements with the DTI during registration and renewals. In other words, for small or home-based businesses, a sole proprietorship form of business is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to process and comply. The only drawback is that if you will register a sole proprietorship business now and you will convert it to a corporation in the future, you will need to process a formal closure of your business with the agencies you were registered (i.e., DTI, Mayor’s Office, BIR, and others) and register it again as a corporation which is a new, separate, and distinct legal entity.
By the way, if you’re a proprietor, your proprietorship business uses the same Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) as yours. In other words, you and your business are the same entity for tax purposes. On the other hand, if you’re a shareholder in a corporation, the corporation uses a different TIN and is a separate entity for tax purposes. This also means that your proprietary business will be reflected in your personal ITR, while a corporation will file its own corporate ITR.
So, should you register a proprietorship business or a corporation? The choice is yours. Incorporation requires more financial, time and human resources. If you don’t have the money, if you’re not knowledgeable in the corporate setup, and if you don’t have a reliable bookkeeper or accountant who will help you on the process, then it may be wiser to initially register a proprietorship form of business.
The registration process
The business registration process in our country can be a difficult task for small business owners who don’t have any idea what to do and where to go to register their business. That is why most of them are hiring bookkeepers to do this for them. Unfortunately, some micro or small business owners can’t even afford to pay a bookkeeper.
Speaking of micro businesses, please check this article if your business is eligible to be registered as a Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BMBE) under R.A. 9178, otherwise known as the “Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2002. If your business qualifies, you could enjoy privileges, such as income tax exemption, exemption from the coverage of the Minimum Wage Law, special credit assistance, and other support from the government.
Now let’s go back to the registration process. Actually, I have already written several articles about the different processes and steps of business registration with the different government agencies in the Philippines. Hence, you just need to read those posts for further details.
To have an idea and understand the business registration process, here is an outline of what you should do and where you should go to legalize your home-based business:
If you’re registering a sole proprietorship, you have to deal with the following offices:
1. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – to register your business trade name. Read here to know how to register your trade name with the DTI.
2. Mayor’s Office – to get a Mayor’s business permit and pay local business taxes. Read here to learn how to get a Mayor’s business permit.
3. Bureau of Internet Revenue (BIR) – to register your business, get TIN, apply for official receipts or invoices, register your books of accounts, and remit your national taxes (i.e., income tax, VAT or Percentage Tax, withholding tax, and annual registration fee). Read this post to learn how to register your business with the BIR.
4. Social Security System, Philhealth, and Pag-Ibig Fund – to register yourself as an employer and as a self-employed member. Read this posts on how to register your business with the SSS and Philhealth.
5. Other government agencies – if your business needs secondary licenses. For example, pawnshops, money changer, money remittance businesses are required to register with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Education providers may also be required to register with the DepEd, CHED or TESDA.
A Barangay business clearance is also a requirement to process your registration. You will go to the DTI first to register your trade name. Remember that your trade name will be the business name that will be printed in your Mayor’s Permit, official receipts and invoices.
Take note that having a certificate of registration from DTI doesn’t make your business legal or legitimate. It doesn’t give you the license to operate as a business. Your certificate of DTI registration is only a registration of your “Business or Trade Name”. It gives you the permit to use your “business name” but not the permit to operate as a business until you complete your registration with other agencies, like the Mayor’s Office and BIR.
In other cities of the Philippines, like Makati City, business registration can be a one-shop stop because of the government’s program to make business registration more efficient. Unfortunately, many cities and municipalities in our country are still not enabled for that.
Now if you’re registering a corporation or partnership, you should register your business first with the SEC. You may read this article to learn more about registering a corporation in the Philippines. Basically, corporations and partnerships are not already required to register with the DTI since their company or corporate name will already serve as their trade name. Their corporate name will be the name that will be printed in the official receipts, invoices and other documents of the business.
So the difference between registering a corporate business and a proprietorship business lies only with the SEC and DTI. The first should register with the SEC, while the latter should register with the DTI. The next steps are the same. Both of them need to register with the Mayor’s Office, BIR, SSS, Philhealth, Pag-Ibig Fund, and other applicable agencies, as enumerated in the list above.
Answers to frequently asked questions
I have readers and followers of this blog who are asking me the following questions. So I’ll share my answers here.
1. Is a sole proprietorship business a company?
Yes it is a company, especially if you will register a trade name with the DTI and you will hire employees. You don’t need to register a corporation to have a company.
2. What if my business is only a home-based business, is it required to be registered with government offices?
If you are earning income, you are basically liable for income tax, and if you’re doing business, you are basically liable for business taxes, which can be either VAT or Percentage tax. Hence, you are required to register with the BIR and other agencies. You can make your home-office as your registered business address. You can also claim as business expenses or tax deductions the allowable expenses you will incur in your home-based business, such as the allocated rent, electricity, water, telephone, and improvement expenses that are directly related to your business operation. Your personal or residential expenses must be separated and not be included in your business expenses for tax purposes.
3. What if I am a professional and I don’t have employees, should I register myself?
If you’re not engaging in business yet you are providing services to clients, you are also earning income which can be taxable. Therefore, you are still required to register as a professional with the applicable government offices. If you will not use a “trade name”, and will only use your “full name”, you are not required to register with the DTI. You have to pay your professional tax with the Mayor’s Office and apply for registration with the BIR. Your full name will also be the name that will appear in your official receipts. Furthermore, you have to register yourself as a self-employed member with the SSS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig Fund. To learn more, read this post on how to register as a professional with the BIR.
4. I’m afraid to do transactions with government officers because of the negative things I heard from them like extortion and corruption, what should I do? There are actually laws in the Philippines that protect citizens from abusive and irresponsible government employees and officers. One of these laws that you should remember is Republic Act No. 9485 otherwise known as the “Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007?. The Anti-Red Tape law was enacted to improve efficiency in the delivery of government service to the public by reducing bureaucratic red tape and prevent graft and corruption in government agencies and offices. Read our post about the Anti-Red Tape law to learn more. So the next time you transact with a government employee, tell him or her that you are fully aware of this law.