Business that's a front, but not for crime.

This is part of what I thought might be a complication. You rent an office and set it up with a hefty internet connection, big screen TV, anything you need for your hobbies. Don’t actually do any business, but conspicuously “go to work” in the morning, surf the web, watch TV, work on your novel that may or may not ever be published, etc., then go home at the end of the day. If (when?) the city comes after you for doing business without a license are you going to be in trouble for deliberately making it look like you’re running a business?

Two elderly ladies used to run a ‘cafe’ in a village I used to live in. It was just a place for them and friends to sit around, drink tea and gossip.

It actually closed for lunch :smiley:

I don’t really think the IRS cares if you just get a bunch of business cards printed up. Or if you rent office space in some building. It might be a nice place to build and display your collection of model airplanes, you know?

I like the thought of a thick looking carved wooden door with a brass plate the size of a business card on it that just says:

Alias & Spurious
By Appointment Only

Joe’s Bar in Ligonier, PA fits well in this thread.

Although Joe is dead, he used this bar as a place to display his taxidermied hunting trophies. There are hundreds of animals, including an elephant head, taking up most of this dive bar. We stop there anytime we pass through Ligonier.

I’d wonder if they couldn’t call the fire department directly as a concerned citizen. If there is a fire there, the FD may end up going in to make sure no one is in there, and they don’t want to try to get into a packed inferno.

Reminds me of another thread from a while back, where I wondered about business spaces for rent: you get the usual mini-fridge-and-microwave break room, plus that little office in the back complete with a hot shower, plus – well, yes, a storefront, but who cares? The rent is less than comparable apartments in the area…

No, you wouldn’t get in trouble by pretending to run a business… because there’s no business! If you’re not attempting to do business, it doesn’t matter what you do with any property you rent.

That said, getting a “business license” in many states requires very little. A small form with your name and address and “business name” and a small fee. That’s it.

This place in SF attempts to recreate a speakeasy I’m told, along with requiring a password to get in sometimes.

I’m planning to stop by there tomorrow, and I’ll mention this. TYVM!

In some places you might get in trouble for renting a buisiness-zoned property and not appearing to run a buisiness, though. Especially if they think you’re living there.

OK - I’ve been wondering this for a while…

If I did win the lottery could I open a bar, get a liquor license and not charge my friends so we could just hang out all day a-la the Badda Bing? Can I just report the loss and pay any applicable taxes?

State liquor laws could be a problem. In PA (land of archaic liquor laws) discounting is considered “encouraging consumption”. You could be fined or have your license revoked.

A bar I go to was giving prizes to frequent flyers; T-Shirts, hats, etc. The liquor control board put a stop to it.:mad:

Sure, but is there anything illegal about renting that property and not not appearing to run a business? Maybe I say I’m a travel agent, since as per 30 ROCK that’s still technically a thing. Maybe it’s language lessons. Maybe I call myself a life coach upon figuring “consultant” looks a little too vague on a business card.

Point is, there’s a sign in the front window, and a message on the answering machine; a website’s up and running, and, well, is it a crime that I’m awful at my job?

We Stealing Neighbours? Gulp.

See post #15, and keep in mind that a travel business is much easier to justify as a hobby. The IRS would catch on quick, if someone else did. Plus, businesses that make constant losses at least have some gross receipts.

Jamie Hyneman’s M5 Industries is a front for Mythbusters. Or is it Mythbusters is a front for M5?

There’s an antique store around here that’s in some one’s garage. You knock and wait for it to open. It’s dark and CROWDED. You can’t see even a 10th of the stuff because besides the tiny little aisle it’s just jam packed. It amazingly looks like it’s all actual antiques, but I don’t know how anything could ever get sold.

An acquaintance of mine lived near a state line, and had real estate licenses in both states. He was required to have an office in both states, each with a visible sign posted on the outside of the office.

So his brother let him hang a sign in a window of the brother’s office. He did most of his business by cell phone, and I think he used post office boxes for mail.

He claimed that it obeyed all of the legal technicalities.

Well, if you present it as your job to the zoning authorities, but aren’t claiming it as such for the purposes of licensing and taxation then, yeah, that probably is a crime or at least an evictable offense.

This can actually be a non-hypothetical problem for bands who want to rent out practice space. Being in a residential or mixed zoned area usually runs afoul of noise regulations, but some zoning laws make it so a bunch of random people off the street can’t just rent an office or warehouse space to hang out and jam in. Sometimes the solution is making the band itself a buisiness, but that can be a big hassle and/or expense for a bunch of folks who just want to make some noise.

There are game stores whose primary purpose is for a space for a group to play games – selling any is very low on the priority list.