When establishing your new business you are asked to list your business address on many documents including your business registration, your business bank account, Google account, and more.
At first glance, if you run your business out of your home, it may make sense to list your home address on these documents. You may not have a physical office or P.O. box, and it is convenient for everything to go to one place. Although we strive for convenience here at TLP we also want to make sure that you are protecting yourself and your business and listing your home address as your business address comes with some risks. Here are three main concerns that we believe may arise from using your home address as your business address.
1. Public Record
When a business is registered and established, you will need to list a registered agent or authorized party to receive notices or any business-related information on behalf of your company. In some cases, the owner (you) may list yourself as the registered agent as yourself and list your own address. When this happens, the address you list under your registered agent is part of public records. This means that not only can your home address be made public but any type of business issue will be sent to your home. This may seem fine to you, and it is legal if you choose to go that route, but keep in mind that if something goes awry that all business issues will be directed to your home address.
There are some alternatives to listing yourself as a registered agent. You can hire companies to be your registered agent. A registered agent service can cost as little as $100-$300 a year. The benefit is that you will not receive as much junk mail since your agent will be receiving all that paperwork on your behalf and will only forward what is necessary and relevant. Additionally, if your business needs to be served a legal document the agent will be the one who will be served instead of someone trying to serve it at your home. The other benefit is that you can list a physical address without sharing your home address. This option may be worth looking into if you want to keep your address private.
2. Business and Personal Finance/Notices
It is also important to be protected from any audits or financial disputes with business partners, and in some cases, this means you should not have bank statements or financial notices sent to your home. If you are a sole proprietorship or a sole member of the LLC getting bank statements and financial information to your house may not be a big deal. This becomes problematic when there is more than one member of the business. If only one member is getting financial statements to their home address it could invite accounting accusations down the road. For instance, if a check becomes missing that originally came from the mail then a business partner or investor may start to have an issue with mail coming directly to your home. Additionally, if your business mail gets shuffled in with your day-to-day mail then you can lose statements, invoices, or even business receipts. These are all important documents for tax season and especially important if you get audited by the IRS. The goal is to keep yourself protected from anything that unexpectedly arises.
3. Privacy from Clients and Vendors
One of the largest issues that come along with using your home address is the welcoming of unsolicited visits. Sure, you may not expect your client to show up unannounced, however that may be inevitable if they have your personal address. If your address is public you are also putting yourself at risk for junk mail, things being sent to your home, ‘personal visits’ from vendors, solicitors trying to sell products, or unruly clients showing up without notice. A good way to avoid this is to only list your phone number and email on your business cards and website. For invoices and shipping purposes you could list a P.O. Box, or even rent out a small shared workspace where you can receive mail. This way everything can be funneled through a separate source while your home space remains a sacred area for you and your family.
TLP’s take… When you are starting your business, put thought into whether you want your home address publicly known. It may seem inconvenient to use another address, but in the long run, it will likely bring you far more ease. You will not have to worry about your privacy being breached and it helps separate business and personal matters. You can accomplish this by renting a shared workspace, hiring an agent for your company, or creating a P.O. Box or UPS address under the business name. Again, it is not unheard of for business owners to use their own home address, but we want you to be fully informed about your options before making that decision.