This is a subject I have wrestled with myself while building my vending business. Vending is an not your typical business since you could have “store-fronts” in several counties or even states so you are definitely atypical and many agencies don’t even know how to treat the business. Of course I’m going to be giving some information that will probably vary greatly from state to state so you may want to double check with your local small business organization (if one exists in your area).
Now as far as licenses you have several levels to think about:
FEDERAL - Nothing is required by law for this but you may want to setup a separate business entity and obtain a separate EIN (Employer Identification Number) for your vending business. The only thing the fed require is that you report any income you collect. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay taxes, with a savy account you can even show a loss from year to year and help offset other taxable income.
STATE - If you live in a state that has a sales tax you may be required to pay sales tax on all or part of the vending revenue. You will also be required to pay any fees relating to the entity you chose (for example corp. tax) and of course income tax on revenue you collect (assuming your state has an income tax). Warning – with state budget crunches most states are raising or levying “minimum taxes” on ANY entity that business in the state, regardless if it shows a loss or profit.
TOWN / COUNTY - If you have a business you are probably required to have a local business license. Plus since you are in the food service industry every town /county you have a machine may require an annual fee per machine (this can get expensive).
OK, that that was the hard part. As you can see if you own a business everyone has their hand out to collect a fee/tax of some kind. The interesting thing about vending is that it is an all cash business that is almost impossible for a goverment agency to track. I am NOT suggestion you should break the law. I follow all the local, state, and federal laws – and sleep much better at night because of it.
I hope this helps!