A husband-wife freelancing team has decided to become "official" in the eyes of Uncle Sam.
Any mefites out there familiar with starting a business with their significant other?
First, the legal prerequisites: You are not my lawyer. You are not my attorney. You are not my insurance consultant.
But maybe, dear hive mind, you can be of some much needed help. Here's the scoop: My wife and I have been making our living writing freelance for several months now. It's been an exciting process, and we've managed to acquire and maintain some great clients. We've actually gotten to the point where we're self-sustaining.
It really happened fast, though. And suffice it to say, we didn't really think about things like, oh, let's see, legal entity structures
. Here's the thing—we're good about contractual obligations. Invoices, proposals, deadlines, setting aside money for taxes ... we've handled our finances and clients thus far with all of the necessary administrative minutiae. But we'd really like to step up our professional image and become legally recognized proprietees. We want to be legit, so to speak. We just don't even know what it means to be
In the meantime, we're still offering our services and operating under this vague, federally unrecognized entity. We have a website, a portfolio, business cards, and all the other trappings of any proper freelance writer. Another thing to note is that we'd like to do business as a boutique under a name other than our own (i.e. "Bla and Bla Creative").
We've had problems, though, when asking authorities about the subject. After meeting with the Chicago-chapter SCORE, we were told, simply: "You have to get a lawyer. We are not authorized to consult with you further. Here, take some pamphlets." And the IRS website, while loaded with information, seems to be written for CPAs. The legalese is impenetrable.
Here's what we are aware of: Some entities
allow for what's called a "qualified joint venture"
. This "QJV" is a method for unincorporated husband/wife business teams to "elect not to be treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes." As to what type
of entities, the IRS only makes it clear that LLC's aren't qualified. That, I suppose, is the limit of our knowledge. Surprisingly, google and the usual Internet search methods have been of limited use. Meanwhile, we still have to make hay while the sun shines, and are concerned about the legality of doing so.
Anybody familiar with the process for starting a business with your spouse? It doesn't really matter the nature of the business, either. I suppose that spousal business regulations apply to writers and cobblers and truck teams alike. While recognizing that state laws and individual circumstances may differ, we're simply interested in how other couples may have done it.