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Law & Legal

A Business Owners Guide to Economic Nexus



As a business owner, I’m sure you see the importance of building a business. You want to grow, be productive and make money so that you can provide for your family and live comfortably. So why do state governments try so hard to take away some of your income?

The answer is called economic nexus.

photo credit: Monstera / Pexels x DavidZydd / Pixabay

This guide is going to go over everything you need to know about economic nexus.

What is economic nexus?

Economic Nexus is when a business has enough activity in a state that they are forced to pay taxes to that state. The activities required to establish nexus are sometimes very small or non-existent, but most of the time it’s simply having employees or property in the state.

There are 3 rules you need to know about nexus:

  1. If your business is in a state for even one hour.
  2. If you have employees in a state where none live.
  3. If you own property in a state.

The consequences of having nexus are that the company will be taxed by the state because they now have an activity within the state. However, this can sometimes lead to double taxation as a company that has nexus in a state may also sell goods or services to that state.

Why does it matter for business owners?

Nexus is important for business owners because it means you are responsible for paying state taxes in the state where your business has interactions. A company can have nexus with a state even if all they do with that state is make phone calls or text messages, which means you could be taxed by states that you never visit.

Since most businesses are national or international, leading to many state interactions, you can see how it could be costly for company owners to pay taxes in every single state.

How do you know if you have nexus?

If you have nexus then you will be taxed in that state. However, it isn’t always obvious when you have nexus with a state. Though many companies are aware that they need to pay sales tax when selling goods in states where they have nexus, some businesses are not aware of their economic nexus status until after they receive a bill from the state.

Nexus is different for every state, so you’ll have to find out what the requirements are in your state. The best way to do this is by contacting the appropriate government agency. For example, if you’re located in California then contact the Board of Equalization or if you’re in Colorado then contact the Department of Revenue.

Tax accountant doing taxes

What are the consequences of having nexus in a state?

The primary consequence of having nexus is double taxation, but there are other things to consider as well. For starters, if your business has employees in a state, then you’ll have to file a non-resident tax return with that state.

If you’re planning on selling goods in a state where your company has nexus, you will also have to collect sales tax from customers and pass it along to that state. Not keeping track of this could result in fines or the need for back taxes.

Can your employees be taxed by another state?

Yes. If you have nexus in a state, then your business can be taxed by that state even if none of your employees live there or spend any time there. This means that, for example, California could force you to pay taxes when all you were doing was hiring someone from New Jersey.

There are also some things you can do to avoid this situation. If your company is international or national in scope, then it might be best for you to hire workers who live in states where your company doesn’t have nexus. There are laws in most states that make companies take a proactive approach to hiring employees from other states, but many of these rules can be avoided through planning.

If you make any transactions in a state where your employees live, then you can avoid taxes on those workers by taking proactive measures such as making the payment directly to the worker rather than paying them in-person. The best way to do this is to set up direct deposit for that employee and have all payments made electronically. This is true whether the employee lives in that state or not.

Are there any exceptions to this rule that might apply to me as a business owner?

There are exemptions for some owners, but they may depend on what kind of work you do and where your company has nexus. For example, if your company only works with an in-state company and your only connection to the other state is hiring workers, then you might not owe taxes in that state.

However, if your company’s work affects interstate commerce or you have clients from another state, then it’s likely that nexus applies to you even if on a more limited basis. In some cases it may be possible for small businesses to avoid nexus with certain states, but your business is unlikely to qualify for these exemptions in most cases.

Tax preparation meeting


If you’re working on a large scale and not already in compliance with sales tax laws, then you should consult with an accountant or lawyer who is well versed in this subject. A good tax professional can help make sure that your business is complying with all state and federal tax laws.

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Law & Legal

Criminal Law For Startups: Potential Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them



As an entrepreneur, you’re probably no stranger to the thrill of creating something new and the challenges that come with it. But are you aware of the legal minefields that may lie ahead? Understanding criminal law and its potential pitfalls is crucial for any startup, yet it’s an area often overlooked in the hustle of getting a business off the ground.

Why is it so important? Because falling afoul of criminal law can lead to severe consequences, including hefty fines, damage to your reputation, and even imprisonment. It’s not just about knowing the law—it’s also about understanding how to navigate it to ensure the sustainability of your startup.

Isn’t it worth a bit of your time now to avoid potentially devastating legal issues later? Keep reading to uncover the potential pitfalls in criminal law for startups and learn how you can steer clear of them.

Understanding Criminal Law In The Context Of Business

Criminal law isn’t just about high-profile trials—it also intersects with the business world in many ways. For startups, navigating this landscape can be particularly challenging due to the unique environments they operate in and the high stakes involved.

The types of criminal offenses that could apply to businesses range from fraud and embezzlement to tax evasion and bribery. For a more comprehensive understanding of how criminal law applies to businesses, you can click here.

With a basic understanding of criminal law in a business context, let’s discuss some specific pitfalls that startups often encounter.

Potential Pitfalls In Criminal Law For Startups

Startups, with their unique environments and challenges, can be especially vulnerable to certain legal pitfalls. Here’s where they often run into trouble:

1. Corporate Fraud

This refers to dishonest activities that a company undertakes to give an advantage to itself or an individual. Startups, due to their often rapid growth and sometimes lax oversight, can be particularly vulnerable to instances of fraud, such as false financial reporting or insider trading.

2. Embezzlement

This occurs when someone with access to company funds or assets misappropriates them for personal gain. As startups often have smaller teams and more trust-based environments, they can be especially susceptible to such actions.

3. Tax Evasion

Startups are required to accurately report income and pay due taxes. However, in an attempt to maximize profits or due to simple oversight, some startups may end up underreporting income, overstating deductions, or hiding money offshore, leading to tax evasion charges.

4. Bribery

This involves attempting to influence someone in a public or legal duty by offering, giving, or receiving something of value. Startups looking for quick wins might be tempted to resort to such measures, but the repercussions can be severe.

5. Intellectual Property Violations

Intellectual property often forms the core of a startup, whether it’s software code, a business model, or a product design. Infringing on someone else’s Internet Protocol (IP) rights, even unknowingly, can lead to criminal charges.

6. Employment Law Issues

Employment law covers a range of issues, from wage and hour violations to discrimination and harassment claims. Mishandling these matters can result in criminal liability for startups.

7. Regulatory Compliance

Startups operating in heavily regulated industries, like healthcare or finance, are required to be particularly diligent about compliance. Failing to follow industry regulations can lead to criminal charges.

Now that we’ve identified the common legal pitfalls startups face, let’s explore some proactive steps you can take to avoid falling into these traps.

Legal work

How To Avoid These Pitfalls

Awareness of potential legal issues is just the first step. It’s equally important to have strategies in place to avoid these pitfalls. Here are some precautionary measures you can take:

1. Hire A Competent Legal Advisor

It’s worth investing in good legal counsel who specializes in business law. They can help you navigate complex legal landscapes, ensure compliance, and advise on potential legal risks. For instance, they can guide you on the legal nuances of protecting your intellectual property or structuring employee contracts to comply with employment law.

2. Create Robust Internal Policies And Procedures

Implementing clear, robust policies and procedures can help ensure everyone in your startup understands the rules and adheres to them. For example, establishing a strict policy against any form of bribery and educating your team about it can prevent legal issues down the line.

3. Perform Regular Compliance Checks And Audits

Regular internal audits can help identify potential legal issues before they become serious problems. In the case of startups in regulated industries, these checks ensure that you’re always in line with the latest regulations.

4. Conduct Staff Training And Education

Regularly training your team about your company’s legal obligations and their role in maintaining compliance can prevent many legal issues. A well-educated team member is less likely to unknowingly infringe on someone else’s IP or commit other offenses that can lead to criminal charges.

Proactively taking these steps can go a long way in safeguarding your startup from potential criminal law pitfalls.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the legal landscape can be daunting, but it’s a critical part of the journey for every startup. The potential pitfalls of criminal law are not insurmountable obstacles, but rather signposts guiding you towards safer paths.

By taking the right steps, you can mitigate risks and focus on what really matters—building and growing your business. Remember, the spirit of entrepreneurship is not just about taking risks—it’s also about managing them.

Understanding the potential legal pitfalls and knowing how to avoid them is a sign of a savvy entrepreneur. After all, a successful startup is not just built on great ideas, but also on a solid legal foundation. So, here’s to building a startup that’s not just innovative, but also legally sound!

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Law & Legal

Essential Legal Documents You Need for Your Small Business



Entrepreneurs from Mississauga to Montreal put all of their effort and attention into growing a business, making it important to protect what has been built. If you don’t have the right standard legal documents for your business, you could be leaving yourself open for litigation that could cost you everything.

As a business owner, you are an expert in your field but that doesn’t mean that you know how to protect yourself and your business from a legal standpoint. It’s crucial that you have the minimum of legal documents prepared for your company to make sure that you are protected from lawsuits.

photo credit: Pixabay

You can work with business lawyers in Mississauga, On, or print off some legal templates that are available online to protect your interests at a minimum. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the essential legal documents that you need for your small business.

Owner’s Agreement

To help solidify trust and cooperation in your business, it’s important to have an owner’s agreement in place. With the right amendments in place, you minimize disagreements and can work towards common goals. Your ownership agreement should clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of each of the partners including decision-making power. Your agreement should include a specified breakdown of your equity ownership agreement, and assignment of your intellectual property to the business and not the partners.

Independent Contractor Agreement

When operating your small business, it can be cost-effective to bring in independent contractors to do certain work. Your independent contractor agreement should be in place to specifically designate that your workers are responsible for paying their own taxes and they are not part of your payroll or in your direct employment.

Vendor Agreement

One of the most important aspects of a successful business is ensuring that you can supply your products quickly to customers. A vendor agreement for your suppliers will provide the terms and conditions under which they will deliver the goods that you need on time.

Employee agreement

Non-Disclosure Agreement

Before you allow any vendors, contractors, or employees into the heart of your business operations, you need to have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. This ensures that outsiders will not be able to disclose any confidential information about your business. Your agreement should clearly outline what is considered to be confidential information, specific information formats, how confidential information should be handled, and a statute of limitations.

Company Bylaws

ovinces and states require that companies create a set of governing bylaws. Within your bylaws, you should clearly outline how your business will be structured, dispute resolution, hiring practices, and powers of shareholders.

Meeting Minutes

While it may not be legally mandated in your area to keep a copy of any executive meeting minutes, it’s still a good idea to keep this type of documentation. Meeting minutes that record everything that is said in major meetings is an excellent company resource for information to resolve potential disputes.

If you are starting a new business, it’s recommended that you have these essential legal documents ready to ensure that you and your venture are protected.

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Law & Legal

Should you trademark your domain name?



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This content should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult an attorney or legal professional regarding your specific legal situation.

In a recent post, I shared all I’ve learned about purchasing multiple domain name variations. Copyright and trademarks have been on my mind a lot lately. This got me thinking about whether a brand or business should trademark a domain name.

Now, because I’m not a lawyer and don’t pretend to be one, I went in search of people much smarter than me who could answer my simple question. Should you trademark your domain name?

Below, I’m sharing what they told me to help you decide when to consider seeing a trademark attorney for yourself.

Marc P. Misthal, Principal, GRR

Trademark Domain Name Marc P. Misthal
Image courtesy of Marc P. Misthal

Marc P. Misthal is a trademark attorney with Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, P.C. in Manhattan, New York. He told me that in short, yes, business owners should trademark their website domain names. The longer answer is a little more complicated. Here’s what he had to say:

“In the U.S., trademark rights are acquired by using a mark, not by registering it. So applying a mark on a hangtag, label, packaging, sign, etc. would create rights in the mark—registration is not necessary.

“The question here seems to be whether a business owner should register their domain name as a trademark. If they are using it as a trademark then yes, they should. What does that mean? Simply using a domain name as part of a URL is not going to be enough to secure a trademark registration. The Trademark Office requires proof that a mark is in use before it will issue a registration, and it will not accept a screenshot showing a URL with the domain as proof of use. If the domain name is being used as the brand, then there will likely be additional use, such as prominent use on a website selling products or services, that the Trademark Office will accept. 

“Having a trademark registration is very valuable. A registration makes notice letters more impactful, and is helpful in taking action against infringing uses that appear on online platforms; many platforms will not take action to stop an infringement without proof of a trademark registration.”

David Reischer, Esq.,

David Reischer is an attorney and CEO of He says that trademarks are imperative for businesses that want to protect their brand names. But you need to go beyond trying to trademark just the domain name. Here’s what he had to say:

“Domain trademarking a mark that consists of a domain name may be possible. It would be registered as a trademark or service mark in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (U.S.P.T.O). However, just like any other mark that comes before the U.S.P.T.O, the domain name may only be approved on the Principle Register if it functions to identify the particular source of goods or services offered. That is to say, the mark must be distinctive so as to be capable of distinguishing the applicant’s goods or services from others.

“The main benefit of acquiring trademark protection is for the legal benefit of stopping other third parties from infringing on the brand’s trademark. A business needs to trademark all corporate and product brands that are inherently distinctive to the identity of the business. Typically a business will trademark a corporate logo, product line identifiers, slogans, and any other attributes that are source identifiers of the business—including a domain name.”

Laura Winston, Principal, Offit Kurman

Trademark Domain Name Laura Winston
Image courtesy of Laura Winston

Laura Winston is a trademark attorney with more than 25 years of experience and a principal in the AmLaw 200 law firm Offit Kurman. Here’s what she had to say:

“Securing trademark rights and registering a trademark used on one’s website has always been important and highly recommended. As we move into the realm of the metaverse, NFTs, and other new digital assets, it will be even more important to secure brands that are used digitally. There are tips and tricks for claiming trademark rights and obtaining a trademark registration for a domain name. Most significantly, it needs to be used as a trademark on the website, not just as the URL that directs to the website.”

James Yang, OC Patent Lawyer

James Yang is a patent attorney and a partner with the firm of Klein, O’Neill & Singh LLP in Orange County, California. Here’s what he had to say:

“The name of the domain should be trademarked because that is typically their main brand. You don’t want others to take away your ability to use your own trademark. Also, before investing a lot of time and money into your main brand, you would want to get a trademark search done. The trademark search [sometimes] mitigates the need to rebrand after a product launch.”

Jeremy Peter Green Eche, JPG Legal

Trademark Domain Name Jeremy Peter Green Eche
Image courtesy of Jeremy Peter Green Eche

Jeremy Peter Green Eche is a trademark broker and attorney with JPG Legal. He says you only want to trademark your domain name if it matches your brand name. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’m a trademark attorney running a four-lawyer trademark-focused law firm based in Brooklyn, New York. I also run a trademark marketplace called Communer where people can buy and sell trademarks, often with domain names attached.

Business owners should always strive to own a federal trademark registration for their brand name. But they should only register their full domain name as a trademark if that’s the name they use in their branding.

For example, if somebody uses the domain name, they should only register as a trademark if they present themselves in their branding as If it just says Google at the top of the website, then they should register Google as a trademark.

If their domain name is generic, e.g., then they are not going to be able to register their name as a trademark without including the top-level domain. Generic terms ordinarily cannot be registered as trademarks. So in this example, the company absolutely should try to register as a trademark, and not just Pet Food or Petfood. Before a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2020 called **, you could not even register a generic name with a .com top-level domain added, but now it’s actually allowed.”

Key takeaways

Many of the other attorneys I spoke with had the same general words of wisdom. Pretty much all agreed that trademarks are a good idea for brand preservation and protection. How you go about your trademark is where things get tricky.

Domain name trademarking requirements and who it will work for:

Based on my research and feedback from attorneys, to trademark a domain name, it needs to be your brand identifier. Otherwise, you will be better off trademarking your brand name, logo, and other elements of your brand identity.

Why does someone need to trademark a domain name?

If it is your brand identifier, trademarking it will protect your brand and prevent others from using your brand name. This can help potential customers avoid being confused about who they are working with/buying from.

What can happen if you don’t trademark?

The Reader’s Digest version is that if you don’t trademark, you might not be legally protected from someone else attempting to use your brand/company name. That’s not to say they would be able to use your name, but a lawsuit could prove quite costly.

Next steps to trademark your domain name

So, where do you go from here? Seek out legal counsel. Always consult an attorney to better understand your specific situation. Attorneys offer free consultations to at least help point you in the right direction. It’s no secret that working with a lawyer isn’t cheap. But the amount of money and headache it can save you, in the long run, might be worth it. After chatting with all these lawyers I know I’m in the market for a trademark attorney for a business idea I’ve been considering. Based on everything they shared with me, I think trademarks are a necessary business expense. If nothing else, it gives you peace of mind that your brand/company identity is better protected.

This content should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult an attorney or legal professional regarding your specific legal situation.

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