Do subscription websites require a DBA?


I have a content website I will begin charging a monthly subscription fee for soon. The receipt the members receive each month will have the website's name on it, my name is not in the website name at all.

My "business" will be online only. I program and add content to the site from where I can plug my laptop into and access the Internet.

My home of residence is Iowa (my parents home), but my current address is an APO box at a military base in Japan.

Operating this online subscription website, do I need to file a DBA with Iowa?

If so, could I simply change the receipt/billing description to show something like " by Chad"? (of course, trying my best to make sure the member knows the billing will look like that)

Legal Business Online Sole Proprietorship

asked Oct 9 '13 at 23:09
108 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • You might actually need to check what jurisdiction **you** are in, not where your **tax home** is located. You're in Japan and in a military base. You need to check the military rules and the Japanese laws regarding what is the law governing your business. It might have nothing to do with Iowa (your tax/election residency) at all. – Littleadv 6 years ago
  • Thanks... this part of the laws governing sole-proprietorship is so gray it's hard to know for sure. Appreciate the help. – Chad 6 years ago

2 Answers


Honestly if you're running a business I suggest getting an LLC at least.

Especially dealing with payments you have a lot of liability which you may not want hanging over your head. It's dirt cheap nowdays, and work same as sole proprietorship in that your co earnings are pass through income to your personal taxes, but you get tyhe protection of a corp

answered Oct 13 '13 at 01:45
820 points
  • Wow... I didn't realize the tax pass-through existed. This is perfect, I've already done signed up with Legal Zoom to form the LLC with my residence address in Iowa. Thank you, that's so much smarter. :) – Chad 6 years ago
  • You're welcome :) Good luck with the business – User60812 6 years ago


I see no reason why you need a fictitious business name. Individuals may run businesses as sole proprietors using their real names.

Furthermore, a fictitious business name would need to be filed in the jurisdiction (typically the county or the state) where the individual is doing business - which makes it impossible for you to make such a filing in the US because you are not doing business anywhere in the US.

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

answered Oct 12 '13 at 05:39
Dana Shultz
6,015 points
  • I'm a SOFA status American living in Japan, working with the USAF. As a sole proprietor I simply add my business earnings to my personal tax returns, correct? Since I pay U.S. taxes, I think I should be good (from what I gather from trying to decipher the SOFA, which seems to say something like: if you pay taxes to one country, you don't need to pay taxes to the other). Thanks for the post. – Chad 6 years ago
  • Sorry, I am not qualified to provide information about taxation, and I know nothing about SOFA. – Dana Shultz 6 years ago

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