How Do I Know If I Am "Doing Business" In Another State?

A quick Internet search will show that states throughout the country have been setting the bar really low on this one.  By way of example let's say you are a self-employed plumber, it doesn't matter if you have created a company or not, let's say you're just a guy or gal that fixes stuff.  You do 100 jobs on average in a year.   99 of your jobs are in Washington state.  But 1 of them is in Idaho.  You are technically required by law to file a Foreign Registration Statement in Idaho and appoint a registered agent. 

The more difficult analysis is with businesses that just deliver items to a different state after they were sold on the Internet, for example.  States are generally trying to exert jurisdiction over those companies too even though they might not even have an owner or employee that physically lives or works in the state.

Anyway, as they say, "if you have to ask..." you probably are doing business in the other state.

Here is a link to the Idaho Secretary of State's (SOS) official foreign registration form.  At the bottom of the second page there is a copy of the Idaho statute (Title 30, Chapter 21, Part 505) that lists activities that can occur without crossing the line into "doing business" in Idaho.  Mostly it describes types of lawyering, banking, owning non-business related lands or just passing through the state.  

If you don't find your profession and/or activity listed, you need to file a "foreign" registration statement and hire a registered agent in Idaho before doing business in Idaho.  It's the law and although we at Reliant feel out-of-state entities should not have to pay a $100 fee to the state for registration, they should have to pay the same taxes that Idaho residents pay when they work in Idaho.  The alternative would result in an unfair competitive advantage for out-of-state entities who work in Idaho.

Although the $100 fee is probably higher than it needs to be for individuals and likely results in discouraging sole proprietors who might otherwise register and pay their taxes, it is still the law.  One of the primary reasons for foreign registration is for out-of-state workers to pay taxes on income derived in Idaho.