We asked small business expert Susan Urbach from the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center to answer the following question from an artist:
“Should an individual artist get a business license?”
Here's her reply, thanks for appearing Susan!
"You think you are asking a yes or no question, but you aren't! There is no such thing as an "official" business license for an artist in Oklahoma. Depending on what kind of legal structure you choose (OK, I know you got a headache right there, but stay with me, we'll keep it simple.) you might have to file certain things.
We believe in keeping the business part of business as simple and as manageable as possible. For most artists, it's going to be just you in terms of ownership and no employees. Life is complicated enough, so just keep it simple. Many artists will find that the sole proprietorship, the simplest form of business, is going to work just fine. There are no official papers to file to form a sole proprietorship.
There are two things that are sometimes confused with each other, and that is a tax id, and a sales tax permit. While many people use these terms as the same thing, they aren't! If you are a sole proprietor with no employees, I wouldn't get a tax id. If you do, it will get you on several state and federal computer lists and you will get papers and notifications that you don't need, and it will give you another one of those headaches. Keep things simple. If you don't need it, don't get it.
You will need a sales tax permit, however. This is for two reasons. One, selling things (products) are subject to sales tax in Oklahoma, so any work you sell is subject to you collecting sales tax. Secondly, if you have your sales tax permit, you have the opportunity to buy products at a wholesale price and also not pay sales tax at the time that you buy it.
You may find our How Do I Form A Sole Proprietorship handout helpful in figuring out what you do and don't need, and the step by step of what you need to do. Check out our website at www.oklahomasmallbusiness.org for information on what we do for small businesses, upcoming seminars, and how to access our affordable services. We love working with small business and we love working with those who are in the creative businesses field."