I plan to incorporate, mainly for the liability protection. My business is Internet-based and the operational costs are quite low, so I plan to fund everything out of my own pocket, and I have the funds to do so. My question is when do I have to start paying myself a salary? Is it ok to basically work for free for the corporation until it starts earning money and then give myself a salary?
There's no reason you have to draw a salary. Plenty of founders take either nothing or a very modest salary, because why would you take your own money you out of the business and presumably get taxed for the privilege?
Long term, you clearly want to make money, and you will want tax advice for how best to do that. But getting started, keep everything as simple as possible.
There is no requirement that you ever pay yourself a salary.
At some point (hopefully) you will start making money and will want to take some of it out of the corporation for yourself. At that point there are various ways to transfer money from the corporation, salary being one of them. Another way a company can distribute money is dividends. How best to organize these things to minimize taxes as well as other considerations is important to consider.
It's completely up to you when you start paying yourself a salary, but I'd say, if you expect the company to make profit, don't wait until the company starts earning money, and give it a director's loan so you could start paying yourself from the beginning of the new tax year. It, of course, depends on where you live, but for example in the UK this way you could spread the salary over the year and pay less tax and insurance. In the UK you must pay national insurance (about 25%), if you earn more than 107 quid a week. So even if your company doesn't earn money now, you might want to use the insurance-free treshold and save a bit. I'm not sure how this works in the USA, but it might be worth checking.