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Get Legal Utah

When my husband and I were dating, I shared my dreams of becoming a photographer with him. Two months later, he sold his Xbox and bought me my very first real DSLRcamera for Valentine’s Day and thus begun Kylee Ann Photography.

When I started my business, I was clueless, naive AND illegal (but I didn’t even know it). I had my city business license and thought I had covered all my bases. I knew nothing about registering my business name, choosing a business structure, sales tax licensing, insurance, taxes or all that other “stuff.”

After a few years in this industry, I realized many photographers are in the same boat. There are so many steps to becoming fully legal and no resource that outlines all the steps.

Disclaimer: This mini guide to getting legal is not meant to give you legal advice or all the laws. Every photographer has a different financial situation and is governed by different city and state laws. This guide is to provide you with the steps to becoming legal and some resources to complete each step.

Step 1: Choose a Business Structure

Choosing a business structure is entirely up to you. There are pros and cons in both structures, as well as tax benefits. When  choosing a business structure, be sure to talk to your accountant!

Sole Proprietorship:
Less complicated
Less money
Less Paperwork
Easier Taxes

Personal Liabilities
No employees

LLC / Corporation:
Independent legal entity
Personal assets are
Saves on taxes when you
make more money
Room to grow/Hire

More money to set-up
More paperwork
More complicated taxes

Accountant Referral: Jake Bassett

Step 2: Register your Business

The Law

All businesses operating in Utah must be
• registered with the Department of Commerce
• & licensed with a city or county in the state.

Part 1: Register your Business Name
From Utah’s One Stop Business Registration FAQs

Who must register their business?
“All businesses in Utah are required by law to register with the Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations and Commercial Code, the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the Utah State Tax Commission, the Utah Labor Commission, Internal Revenue Service and with local municipalities to obtain a business license. In addition, certain types of businesses need special licenses and permits in order to operate, i.e., insurance agents, contractors, doctors and dry cleaners,

Why are businesses required to register?
“Registration insures that the business name cannot be legally used by another business. The more you use the registered name and become known to the public by name, the more legal protection your name earns against “predatory encroachment” by other businesses. Registration is required so that a comprehensive state registry of all business and corporate information is available for public reference. This information is vital to an orderly legal system and marketplace. Without it, the public or other businesses may have no way of knowing the persons with whom they are doing business. In addition, registration is required by law to provide public notice as to who owns or stands behind a business entity. You cannot file a lawsuit in court as a business if your business is not registered. Registration enables careful business people to verify information about companies with whom they do business.”

How long will it take?
“Completing the online registration process could take as little as fifteen minutes depending on the complexity of the business organization, or as long as one to two days if you have to wait for a response from one of the participating entities. This system will allow a maximum of 120 days to complete the process before deleting any partially submitted applications.”

How much does it cost?
“Business registration fees typically consist of a filing fee with the Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations and Commercial Code and a business license fee that is assessed by local municipalities for each business location and these fees vary at each municipality. In some instances a business will also be required to pay additional licensing and permitting fees depending on business activities. The OneStop Online Business Registration system will only collect the filing fee for the Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Corporations and Commercial Code that ranges from $22.00 to $70.00 and these fees are non-refundable. These fees can be paid with American Express, Discover Card, MasterCard, Visa or a Subscriber Account.”

How to Register Your Business Name

1. Go to

  1. Create an account
  2. Register your business with the state

In Person or By Mail
The Utah State Tax Commission
Ogden Branch Office
2447 Lincoln Ave
Ogden UT, 84401

Division of Corporations and Commercial Code
Department of Commerce
Heber M. Wells Building
160 East 300 South, P.O.
Box 45801
Salt Lake City, Utah
(801) 530-4849.

Part 2: Get a business License

From Utah’s One Stop Business Registration FAQs

Why are municipal business licenses required? “Local licensure ensures that businesses are safe to the public and given the protections under the law to which a licensed business is entitled. A business may be visited or inspected and required to fulfill local zoning, building and parking requirements before receiving a license. This ensures employee and public health, safety and welfare. In most cases each business location will require a business license. However, a phone call to the city or county office will alleviate doubt.”

Do I Need a Business License?

Laws vary by city. For example, in Logan, UT the law is:

What is the purpose of Business Licensing? To oversee the regulation and licensure of businesses within Logan, to maintain a current index of licensed businesses, and to raise revenue necessary to regulate licensed entities.

Do I require a Logan business license? It is unlawful for any person, either directly or indirectly, to engage in business or conduct any nonprofit enterprise, or to use in connection therewith any vehicle, premises, machine or device, in whole or in part, within the city for which a license is required without first procuring a license.

Are there exemptions to the requirement to license? A home occupation with gross receipts of less than $1,200.00 per year does not require a business license, but registration with the Division of Business Licensing is recommended.
2. The provisions of this chapter (Title 5 of the Municipal Code) shall not be deemed or construed to require the payment of a license fee by, or the issuance of a license to any institution or organization which is conducted, managed or carried on wholly for the benefit of charitable purposes or from which profit is not derived, directly or indirectly by any individual, firm or profit corporation. Organizers, managers or owners of such exempt event or organization must register with the Business License Division.

How to Get a Business License

Business licensing laws and applications vary by city. To find out the laws in your city and apply, go to your city offices or Google “YOUR CITY business licensing.” You can obtain a business license in person, over the phone/mail or online. In order to provide the most accurate information to your city office, make sure you know your business structure and how much gross income you are expecting to earn per year.

Step 3: Apply for Sales Tax License

  1. Go to
  2. Apply
  3. You will receive your sales tax license by mail.

How Sales Tax Works for Photographers
(find all the Utah Sales Tax rules for Photographers here)

Photographers in Utah must collect sales tax on:
• Session/Sitting Fees
• Digital Photos & Galleries
• Prints & Products
• Travel Fees
• Post-Processing & Retouching Fees
• Stock Photography
In other words, sales tax is charged on the entire sale’s price!

Tax rate varies by location…
• “Sales tax collected is based on the rate where your business resides. Current sales tax rates are found online at”
• “If a sale of photography is made to a customer in Utah, the sale is taxable whether the photo shoot takes place in Utah or in some other location.”
• “Even if the sale includes charges for the photographer’s out-of-state travel, model fees, equipment rental, or other fees paid in another state or country, Utah sales tax applies to the entire amount of the sale if the sale occurs in Utah.”

Paying Sales Tax:

Login to to pay.
Due dates for sales tax are based on the previous year’s tax liability, as follows:

Step 4: Accounting
• Open a Separate Bank Account & Credit Cards
• Track expenses
• Track income
• Save ALL receipts
• Plan for 30% of profit to go to taxes.

TAXES: “An activity is presumed for profit if it makes a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year”

Common Tax Deductions:
• Automobile Expenses ($0.565 per mile)
• Travel Expenses (Airfare, Meals, Lodging)
• Office or Studio Space
• Housing Costs (if solely used for photography)
• Phone Lines
• Accountant and Attorney Fees
• Education (Seminars, Workshops, Books)
• Equipment (Camera, Lenses, Memory Cards,Lighting, etc)
• Lightroom Presets, Photoshop Actions & Templates
• Props
• Equipment that lasts longer than 1 year is listed property which you can only deduct a portion of its cost each year.
• Insurance

Common Tax Mistakes:
• Not collecting sales tax
• Deducting Full Meals
o You can only deduct 50% of meals.
• Not paying self-employment tax.
• Botched home office deduction.

Accountant Referral: Jake Bassett

Step 5: Get Insurance

Of course we never want to assume we are going to damage our gear or get sued by one of our clients, but accidents happen! Insurance is crucial to protect ourselves, our equipment and our clients. The amount of insurance coverage you should obtain depends on your business. All businesses should have at least the following coverage:

Business General Liability

• Protects against legal actions arising from injuries, accidents, lost images and more.

Equipment Insurance
• Protects against equipment loss or damage including: camera bodies, lenses, computers, lighting, etc

Where can you get business insurance?
• Ask your current car or life insurance agent.
Professional Photographers of America

Step 6: Use Contracts & Releases
Contracts are another crucial way to protect yourself, your clients and your business. Use contracts in EVERY single wedding or session you do. There are free contract templates at or cheap contracts on

After you download a template, make sure to go over it with your attorney to make sure everything is worded correctly and legally binding.

Contracts | What to Include

•Client Information (names, contact info, wedding day contact)
•Wedding Information (date, time, arrival-departure, locations)
•Package Price & Information
•Payment Schedule
•Non-Guarantee (not responsible for things outside of my control i.e. flash)
•Payment (deposit, payment schedule, cancellation)
•Exclusivity (only photographer)
•Liability (not liable for more than package price)
•House Rules (limited to venue’s rules/regulations)
•Event Guide (responsible for identifying important people)
•Copyright & Usage
•Completion Schedule & Delivery
•Professional Image Manipulation
•Permissions (permission to photograph in specific locations)
•Performance (contingent upon acts of God, natural disaster, etc)


Print Release
A print release is given to your clients with permission to print their photos. The release specifications is up to you. It can be a personal-use, commercial-use or multiple persons release. Specify the maximum print size and any other limitations, such as using the photos commercially or for financial gain without written permission.

Model Release
A model release is a release from the client to use their images online, in print, for advertising or displays and more. You must have a signed release to legally use their photos online, even on your own website. Parents must sign for children under 18. A model release can be written into your contract.

Copyright Release
Don’t give copyright away!

Feeling overwhelmed?

Getting legit and legal can be overwhelming, but trust me when I say you’re not alone! Every photographer has been there at some point. It’s a lot of paperwork and long hours doing not-so-fun stuff. This guide to getting legal is designed to make it as simple as possible. Here’s a re-cap of everything you need to complete to get your business legal:

Get Legal Checklist:

Choose a Business Structure
Register your Business Name (State)
Apply for a Business License (City)
Apply for a Sales Tax License (State)
Pay Monthly, Quarterly or Annual Sales Tax (State)
Open a Separate Bank Account
Start Tracking Income and Expenses
Pay Taxes
Get Insurance
Write Contracts & Releases

Now Let’s be friends!

Hello there, I’m Kylee Ann aka Kylee. I’m a twenty-something year
old wife, mother of two and lover of love. I specialize in a
photojournalistic style of shooting. I love to capture candid,
spontaneous pictures and all the little details.

June 25, 2024

Kylee Maughan

© 2020 Showit GRace and Gold | KYlee ANN STUDIOS