There are many kinds of businesses you can run out of your own home in Florida. However, a home-based business is still a business, which means you need to comply with all applicable state and local laws and other restrictions. There are also tax and insurance implications. Here are several things you should consider before your big launch.
- Zoning — Just because you own your house doesn’t mean you can do anything you want on the property. Local zoning rules limit the type and scope of commercial activities. In some cases, it’s possible to obtain a variance, which involves going before a local zoning board and showing good cause. Many people hire a business and real estate lawyer to help them navigate the variance process.
- HOA rules — If you live in a community with a homeowners’ association, be wary of HOA rules that prohibit commercial activity. In some cases, you may be able to operate a business that offers services only or operates entirely online. For example, a home-based graphic designer who conducts all her business over the internet and never meets with clients at her home is probably in compliance with HOA rules.
- Insurance — Keep in mind that your homeowners’ insurance might not cover your in-home business. Many policies specifically exclude coverage for business-related losses. If you plan to operate a business from home, you may need to purchase a rider or separate policy that gives you coverage for losses related to your business. It’s worth having an experienced Florida business lawyer review your policy to make sure you have the coverage you need.
- Licensing and permitting — Florida has licensing and permitting rules for operating small businesses, including home-based ones. If you sell goods or services in the state, you’ll need to collect sales tax, which requires registration with the Florida Department of Revenue. You must also obtain a general business license (also known as a business tax receipt) from your county or city tax collector. Provision of certain services requires a professional or occupational license.
An advantage of being a home-based small business owner is that you are likely eligible for the home office deduction on your federal income tax return. Subject to IRS regulations, you can deduct the portion of your housing, utility and maintenance expenses attributable to the space in your home that is used exclusively and regularly as your principal place of business.
Launching a new business from home can be exciting, but you’ll want to make sure you do it properly and in full compliance with state and local law. The Law Office of Tania Sayegh Bartolini, P.A. advises small business owners in the greater Fort Lauderdale area. Call 954-603-1865 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.