Form a General Partnership in Ohio

In Ohio, a general partnership is when people team up, combining skills and resources. Explore our guide below to understand the dynamics of general partnerships in the Buckeye State.

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With an Ohio general partnership, all business partners share equally in the profits and losses of the business. In addition, general partnerships are very easy to start and maintain. Learn more about Ohio general partnerships and if creating one is right for you.

Step 1: Determine if you should start a general partnership

General partnerships are ideal for some businesses. But for other businesses, becoming a general partnership would cause more problems than solutions. 

The only way to understand whether a general partnership is a good fit for you is to review its key characteristics.

Below, we’ve listed a few pros and cons that come with forming a partnership in Ohio. 


A general partnership offers the following advantages:

  • It’s easy to create
  • Maintenance is minimal
  • It’s simple to distribute losses and profits

Given these benefits, a general partnership is best for short-term business ventures. That said, you’ll want to consider a more durable business entity (i.e., LLCs or corporations) if you intend to run a business for the foreseeable future. One of the main reasons that Ohio general partnerships are not especially long-lasting is that they generally dissolve when one partner exits the venture or passes away. 


Depending on your ultimate goals for your business, running a business partnership in Ohio could serve as a stumbling block. An Ohio general partnership has the following drawbacks:

  • All partners share joint and several liability
  • There’s no protection of personal assets
  • The rules for transferring ownership interests can be strict
  • Raising capital can be more difficult 

With these pros and cons in mind, you should approach a legal or financial expert to give you additional guidance on the best path forward. In fact, you should seek expert advice even if you’re already sold on the idea of operating an Ohio general partnership.  

Step 2: Choose a business name

You don’t need to register as a general partnership in Ohio if you and your partners are using your own names in the business’s name. Because no registration is required, general partnerships generally follow this naming convention. Ohio considers all other kinds of names as “trade” or “fictitious” names, also known as DBA (“doing business as”) names. So if you want to use a different name, you’ll need to register that name with the Ohio Secretary of State. If you already have a name in mind, check to see if your business name is available.

Step 3: File a Name Registration Form (if needed)

If you wish to use a name for your business that doesn’t involve your own name or your partners’ names, you’ll need to file an Ohio Name Registration Form (also called Form 534a) with the Ohio Secretary of State. You will also want to confirm with the Secretary of State that your partnership’s trade name is available. Thanks to our Ohio DBA Service,  business owners can get one in a snap.

Step 4: Draft and sign Partnership Agreement

Every business needs to have a set of rules so it can operate properly. You can establish the rules of your general partnership by drafting and signing a Partnership Agreement. 

There are a wide variety of rules and regulations that you can set up with your Ohio general partnership agreement. A few examples include:

  • How to admit new partners
  • How to handle the withdrawal of a partner
  • How to dissolve the partnership
  • The rights and responsibilities of the individual partners

We highly recommend that you form your own Partnership Agreement. If you don’t, you have to depend on the default rules set out by Ohio’s Uniform Partnership Act. It’s not certain that these rules will be a great fit for your business, so why not draft a Partnership Agreement that sets out the rules you want for your Ohio general partnership?

Step 5: Obtain licenses, permits, clearances

Just like most other businesses in Ohio, a general partnership generally needs to obtain licenses and permits to operate legally. The state requires almost all businesses to register with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. Beyond that, your business may need additional licenses and permits based on its planned activity and exact location. Keep in mind that there are requirements at the federal, state, and local levels. But don’t feel overwhelmed by this.

The good news is that you don’t need to do hours of research on the internet to figure out what licenses and permits you need for your business. Instead, check out our Business License Report. In collaboration with our partners at Avalara, we’ll put together a report that identifies all your licensing and permitting needs at the local, state, and federal levels.

Step 6: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Think of an Employer Identification Number (EIN) as a social security number for your business. Businesses need an EIN to pay taxes in the same way individuals need social security numbers to pay their personal taxes. To get an EIN for your Ohio general partnership, you need to apply for one from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But since you probably have more important things to do for your business, use our easy Employer ID Number Service to get an EIN quickly.  

Step 7: Get Ohio state tax identification numbers

Although general partnerships generally don’t have to pay corporate income tax, Ohio charges all businesses a “Commercial Activity Tax” if they make over $150,000 in gross receipts. The CAT applies to general partnerships as well as other businesses.  To pay this tax and other taxes, you’ll need to obtain an Ohio tax ID number. You can start this process by filing a Commercial Activity Tax Registration with the state. 

Forming a Business Partnership in Ohio: Next Steps

Now that you have formed your business, obtained all necessary permits and licenses, and registered your business to pay taxes, you’re just about finished. All that’s left is to set up a business bank account. You may also want to take out a business insurance policy.  You will also want to keep up with your taxes.

How We Can Help

An Ohio general partnership is relatively easy to set up. But as you can see, there are still several administrative requirements that you need to meet. Here at ZenBusiness, we’re dedicated to helping small business owners focus on what matters rather than spend their time filling out paperwork. That’s why we’ve crafted a comprehensive suite of business development and maintenance services, including our Worry-Free Compliance Service. With these tools on your side, you can help you make the most of your business.

If you decide that a general partnership isn’t right for you, then we can still assist you with our Ohio LLC and Ohio Corporate Formation services. Using these simple and effective formation services will let you focus on the aspects of your business that truly deserve your attention. 

Ohio General Partnership FAQs

  • No, there is no Ohio general partnership registration requirement. That said, you must still register for tax purposes and get all appropriate business permits to operate legally.

  • Yes, but not through corporate income taxes. Instead, general partnerships have to pay the state’s Commercial Activity Tax (for all receipts over $150,000) and possibly sales taxes.

  • Generally speaking, a partner both owns and controls the business. On the other hand, an owner merely owns an interest in the business. An owner may or may not have the right to run the business.

  • The organization of your general partnership depends on whether you have a signed Partnership Agreement. If you do, you can organize your business according to your own rules. Otherwise, you will have to follow Ohio’s default organization rules.

  • Generally speaking, all business partners are jointly and severally liable for the partnership’s debts.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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