If you wish to become a private investigator in South Dakota, these are the steps you need to take:
|Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Dakota|
|Set up your Business in South Dakota|
|Obtain a South Dakota Sales Tax License|
|Start Work as a Private Investigator in South Dakota|
Private investigators obtain information about people or businesses for clients ranging from attorneys to insurance companies. The business of being a PI can include the following types of investigations, among others:
- Providing information for defense attorneys to prepare their case
- Examining whether potential investors are reliable
- Determining whether people on workman’s compensation are really disabled
- Investigating a spouse to see whether the person is involved in an infidelity
The state of South Dakota does not license private investigators. If you will be working independently, you will need to establish yourself as a business. You will also need to obtain a sales tax license and check with your city and county to see if there are any local ordinances that you would need to follow.
Step 1. Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Dakota
Although there are no stated education and training requirements to become a private investigator in South Dakota, you will need strong analytical skills and a working knowledge of the legal system. You can obtain these skills by working as an employee for a detective agency or by obtaining a degree in criminal justice.
An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice would strengthen your analytical skills and give you a firm grounding in the state and federal legal system. You can obtain this type of training from schools located in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Yankton, Vermillion, and Mitchell. In addition, you can obtain criminal justice degrees from one of the many online schools that offer degrees in this field.
Step 2. Set up Your Business in South Dakota
If you plan on working alone as a private investigator, you will need to set up an independent PI agency business. You should consult with a tax specialist to determine if you want to have a sole proprietorship or incorporate as an LLC.
There are advantages to incorporating. If someone were to sue you over the course of your investigations, your personal assets would be protected. This is not the case if you are the sole proprietor.
If you decide to name your company as something other than your name, you will need to register the fictitious name:
- Sole proprietors: register with the county Register of Deeds
- Corporations: register and start your business process with the Office of the South Dakota Secretary of State
Once your business has been approved by the state, you will need to obtain a federal tax ID number from the IRS if you have incorporated the business. This is not necessary for sole proprietors. You will also need to register with the Unemployment Insurance Tax Unit.
Step 3. Obtain a South Dakota Sales Tax License
Your services as a private investigator fall under the Department of Revenue’s Business Tax Division’s Sales and Service Tax License. You will not need to worry about this if you are an employee, but if you have established yourself as a principal of a new PI agency business, you will need to charge sales tax.
The state of South Dakota charges a 4% tax on all of the services you provide. You will need to obtain a license to charge sales tax from the South Dakota Department of Revenue. In addition, approximately 53% of the municipalities in the state have an additional tax.
Step 4. Start Work as a Private Investigator in South Dakota
Once you have obtained your sales tax license and checked with your city or county to make sure you have complied with any local rules, you can start work as a private investigator.
If you want to work for a detective agency, there are several prominent ones that sometimes offer jobs to aspiring private investigators in South Dakota:
- Executive Services Consultants
- Investigative Services of Nebraska/South Dakota/Iowa
- South Dakota Private Investigators
- Stealth Investigative Agency