Select Page

Start your business with confidence

Whether you’re ready to form your business right now or still researching your options—we’re here
for you. Keep scrolling to learn all about LLCs. Or, enter your name to get started.

What do you want your LLC called? How about check its availability?

What is a limited liability company (LLC)?

A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business structure in the United States, specific to each state, where the owners are not personally responsible for the company’s debt or liabilities. LLCs combine limited liability, like a corporation, and pass-through taxation, which means that, unlike a corporation, LLC owners pay taxes on profits earned by the business through their individual tax returns only, as opposed to being taxed at both the business level and the personal level (known as “double taxation”).

Because of its liability protection, an LLC is an appealing idea for business owners who want to protect themselves from individual responsibility for any business debt or lawsuits that could occur, yet avoid the extra taxes and paperwork of a corporation. Once a business becomes an LLC, it becomes its own entity, and all legalities become separate from the owner(s).

Quick Comparison Entity Chart

Limited Liability Company

Liability

Combines limited liability protection with a pass-through tax structure.

Taxation

IRS rules allow LLCs to choose between being taxed as partnership or corporation.

Maintenance

The easiest entity to maintain with the least amount of formal annual requirements.

Corporation

Liability

Owners / shareholders have limited personal liability for business related debts.

Taxation

Separate taxable entity, corporate profits among owners and corporation.

Maintenance

Meetings are required to maintain corporate status. Stock may be sold to raise capital.

Non-Profit Corporation

Liability

A corporation formed for a charitable, educational, religious, literary, or scientific purpose.

Taxation

Contributions to charitable corporation are tax deductible. Can get tax exempt status with the IRS.

Maintenance

Annual reports, minutes, meetings are required to maintain nonprofit / tax exempt status.

What are the benefits of an LLC?

et|icon_hourglass|

Requires fewer formalities

Unlike with a corporation, you aren’t required to have a board of directors or shareholders with an LLC. You have more options in setting up your management structure.

fas|fa-warehouse|

Protects you and your assets

An LLC protects you and your personal assets—including your car, home, and bank accounts—from liability if your business is ever sued or incurs debts.

fas|fa-shield-alt|

Gives you tax flexibility

With an LLC, you get to choose how you’ll be taxed. By default, LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities, but you can decide to be taxed as a corporation or an S corporation.

It’s simple to get started

fas|fa-store|

First, tell us a little about your business.

et|arrow_right|$
fas|fa-file-alt|

We'll share what services we think might work best.

et|arrow_right|$
fas|fa-clipboard-check|

You pick the best business package for your needs.

fas|fa-store|

First, tell us a little about your business.

fas|fa-file-alt|

We'll share what services we think might work best.

fas|fa-clipboard-check|

You pick the best business package for your needs.

Starting an LLC.

 

1. Name Your LLC

Before you can form an LLC, you’ll need to find the perfect business name—and make sure it’s not already taken. Fortunately, every state has an online database where you can search for available names. In every state, except for Alabama, you do not need to reserve the LLC name prior to filing the Articles of Organization.

When choosing a name, you’ll also need to avoid restricted words or phrases. For instance, in Washington, business corporations are prohibited from including words like “bank” or “trust” in their names. Nearly all states also require LLC names to include a phrase or abbreviation identifying the business entity, such as “L.L.C.,” “LLC,” or “Limited Liability Company.”

2. Choose a Registered Agent

A registered agent essentially acts as the liaison between an LLC and the state it’s registered in. This third-party individual or business entity acts as a point of contact on behalf of the business and receive things like tax forms and legal documents, government correspondences, and notices of a lawsuit.

You can be your own registered agent so long as you have a physical street address in the state in which your LLC is filed (P.O. boxes aren’t allowed); however, hiring an outside registered agent service has its benefits.

It allows you to have more privacy and flexibility and can decrease the added stress that can come with being your own agent. Using a third-party registered agent service, such as the one offered at ZenBusiness, ensures that you are compliant with the law, always protected, and strategically organized.

3. File the Certificate of Formation/Articles of Organization

Now that you’ve made the big decisions, it’s time to file the LLC state form. This form—most commonly called the Articles of Organization—is filed with an agency in the state where you want to form an LLC. In most states, LLC formation documents are processed by the Secretary of State. With the exceptions of Iowa and Nebraska, states offer either a paper or online form you can complete. You can also write your own Articles of Organization. Requirements vary, but at minimum, you’ll need to include your LLC’s name, your registered agent, and a signature.

4. Get an Operating Agreement

Your operating agreement is the governing document of your LLC. How the LLC distributes its profits and losses, who owns what percentage of the company, how management structure is defined, everything—it’s all in the operating agreement. Your operating agreement is not filed with any state agency when forming an LLC; it’s an internal document. However, it’s not something you want to be operating an LLC without.

Apply for an EIN and Review Tax Requirements

After officially forming your LLC, you should consider registering it with the federal government by applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

An EIN is the business equivalent of a personal Social Security number and is required if your LLC has multiple partners or employees. It’s free to apply for an EIN and can conveniently be done on the IRS website. When done online, the EIN is issued immediately