Incorporate a Business
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Corporate Structures and Incorporating Options
The most common corporate business structures to review when you begin:
- C Corporation
- S Corporation
- Professional Corporation
- Nonprofit Corporation
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Incorporating a business requires the preparation and filing of a Certificate of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. Once the corporation is established, it becomes its own separate legal entity and is subject to the laws governing corporations in the state of incorporation.
Learn More About Incorporating Your Business
Incorporating a business is much simpler today. Information about how and where to incorporate if freely available on the internet. The process, however, can sometimes be tedious. Therefore, using an affordable incorporation service like CorpNet is often a smart choice.
For the determined do-it-yourselfers, here’s how it’s done:
- Check to see if your preferred business name is available
- Draft Articles of Incorporation
- Executed your Articles of Incorporation with the state
- Receive your certified documents
- Elect a Board of Directors
- Issue corporate stock shares
Incorporating yourself is not a daunting task. However, CorpNet can make it fast, reliable, and affordable.
You often hear of companies incorporating in Delaware, Wyoming, or Nevada. That’s because Delaware offers flexible, pro-business statutes, while Wyoming and Nevada feature low filing fees, as well as no state corporate income, franchise, and personal income taxes.
However, as a general rule of thumb, if your business will have fewer than five shareholders, you should incorporate in the state where you actually live or where your business has a physical presence (such as an office).
When you incorporate in a different state from your physical presence, you’ll need to deal with added fees and paperwork since you’re considered “operating out of state.” And for most small businesses, the added hassle and fees just aren’t worth it.
Do you know the difference between an S Corporation and a C Corporation? Have you ever wondered if you should form an LLC for your business or where you should incorporate it? Or maybe you’re not sure if you need to create a non-profit for your activities.
We’ve assembled the most frequently asked questions when it comes to incorporating your business. If you’re a small business owner, read on to learn more about the various business structures and how you should incorporate your business.
What are the Benefits of Incorporation?
The main reason to incorporate is to minimize your personal liability. Once your business is incorporated, it exists as a separate business entity. Essentially, you put a wall separating your personal assets from anything in the business. Of course, there are other benefits too.
Here are the top reasons to incorporate:
- Minimize your personal liability and protect your personal assets
- Get more flexibility when it comes to taxes (talk to your CPA or tax advisor for specific advice on your personal situation)
- Boost the credibility of your small business
- Add a layer of privacy (don’t use your personal name and home address to represent your business)
- Start building your business credit
- Protect your business name and brand at the state level
What are the Drawbacks of Incorporation?
The only real “drawback” of incorporating is that you’ll need to operate your business at a higher administrative level than you’re used to as a sole proprietorship. In addition, incorporating as a C Corporation can result in higher taxes for some small business scenarios due to double taxation.With a C Corporation, the business needs to pay taxes on any profits, and then owners are also taxed when any profits are distributed to them. Obviously, if you’re looking to put your small business profits into your own pocket, you may end up paying a lot in taxes. However, as the following question shows, there are ways to avoid double taxation, while still getting some of the benefits of incorporation.
What’s the Difference Between a C Corporation and an S Corporation?
As mentioned above, the C Corporation’s tax structure isn’t optimal for many small businesses, since business owners often are taxed twice on the profits. However, Corporations can elect for “S Corporation” tax treatment. Often called a “pass-through” entity, an S Corporation doesn’t file its own taxes. Rather, profits and losses of the business are passed through and reported on the business owner’s personal tax return.
To qualify for S Corporation tax treatment, you’ll need to fill out Form 2553 with the IRS. You’ll need to do this no more than 75 days from the date of incorporation, or no more than 75 days from the start of the current tax year.
Be aware that not every business can qualify to be an S Corporation. For example, an S Corporation cannot have more than 100 shareholders and shareholders must be U.S. citizens or residents.
What’s an LLC?
An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a hybrid of a sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. This structure is very popular among small businesses, and for good reason.
The LLC limits the personal liability of the owners, but doesn’t require much of the heavy formality and paperwork of the corporation. This makes it a great choice for business owners that want liability protection, but don’t want to deal with exhaustive meeting minutes, addendum filings, or other paperwork you’d need to file as a corporation.
You can structure your LLC to be taxed as an S Corporation (as described above) where company profits flow through to the owners and are taxed at the personal income rate.
What’s a Nonprofit Corporation?
A nonprofit is created for charitable, educational, or other purposes (charitable, religious, scientific, educational, and literary).
Nonprofits cannot benefit the owners and all money above operating costs must be used to further the goals of the nonprofit. This allows nonprofits to operate tax-free.
Approval is needed at both the State and Federal (IRS) level.
Just like with other corporations or LLCs, a nonprofit corporation offers a corporate shield that helps protect the personal assets of the nonprofit’s stakeholders. In most cases, as long as the legal structure remains correct, stakeholders of nonprofit corporations are immune from individual liability.
When is the Best Time to Incorporate?
In most cases, it’s best to incorporate or form an LLC as soon as possible. After all, the main benefit is liability protection and by waiting to incorporate, you can be exposing yourself to liability.
Keep in mind that your corporation’s ‘start date’ is not retroactive. This typically means filing two business income tax returns for the year.
For example, if your corporation was formed on June 1, you’ll need to file as a sole proprietor (or whatever your previous entity may have been) from January 1 – May 31 and then file as a Corporation from June 1 – December 31.
Learn More About Incorporating in Your Preferred State
- Incorporate a Business in Alabama
- Incorporate a Business in Alaska
- Incorporate a Business in Arizona
- Incorporate a Business in Arkansas
- Incorporate a Business in California
- Incorporate a Business in Colorado
- Incorporate a Business in Connecticut
- Incorporate a Business in Delaware
- Incorporate a Business in Florida
- Incorporate a Business in Georgia
- Incorporate a Business in Hawaii
- Incorporate a Business in Idaho
- Incorporate a Business in Illinois
- Incorporate a Business in Indiana
- Incorporate a Business in Iowa
- Incorporate a Business in Kansas
- Incorporate a Business in Kentucky
- Incorporate a Business in Louisiana
- Incorporate a Business in Maine
- Incorporate a Business in Maryland
- Incorporate a Business in Massachusetts
- Incorporate a Business in Michigan
- Incorporate a Business in Minnesota
- Incorporate a Business in Mississippi
- Incorporate a Business in Missouri
- Incorporate a Business in Montana
- Incorporate a Business in Nebraska
- Incorporate a Business in Nevada
- Incorporate a Business in New Hampshire
- Incorporate a Business in New Jersey
- Incorporate a Business in New Mexico
- Incorporate a Business in New York
- Incorporate a Business in North Carolina
- Incorporate a Business in North Dakota
- Incorporate a Business in Ohio
- Incorporate a Business in Oklahoma
- Incorporate a Business in Oregon
- Incorporate a Business in Pennsylvania
- Incorporate a Business in Rhode Island
- Incorporate a Business in South Carolina
- Incorporate a Business in South Dakota
- Incorporate a Business in Tennesee
- Incorporate a Business in Texas
- Incorporate a Business in Utah
- Incorporate a Business in Vermont
- Incorporate a Business in Virginia
- Incorporate a Business in Washington
- Incorporate a Business in West Virginia
- Incorporate a Business in Wisconsin
- Incorporate a Business in Wyoming