Every time you hire an employee in a new state, you have to open payroll tax “accounts” with the state.
Usually, you have to register with Department of Labor (so that unemployment insurance is deducted), and the Department of Revenue (so that income tax for the state is deducted), along with some combination of a Secretary of State (because you’re applying to “do business” in the state), Registered Agent (who serves as a point of contact for the state — this is an archaic requirement in the age of virtual mailboxes, but still an active requirement)… and sometimes a Paid Family Leave policy, and sometimes local municipalities and city governments like San Francisco or Denver...
This is often a 5-10 hour process, navigating labyrinthine requirements, account creation, confusing state websites, and more. It can take anywhere from a couple hours to a few months(!) to get approved. If you don’t do it, you literally cannot run payroll for employees in that state.
If you're an AO customer, this process takes ~5 minutes. But if not, you might be wondering what the lead-times are, or how much it's going to cost you to register in a state, or... wait, what agencies? Where do you even need to go to register?!
Of course, we think it's not a good use of time for operators or founders to do this in-house... just like you don't write out paychecks anymore, you shouldn't be logging into state sites or sending in faxes (yes, some states really require that). But if you're in a pinch, we thought this free, public guide might help you out.
(But really... you should just sign up. Our automated system handles this for you.)
(No? You really really want to learn about ~200 agencies and try to do this all yourself, instead of running your business? Okay, we did our best to warn you...)