An important part of LLC formation is the registered agent. A registered agent must be a person who is located in the state in which you are forming your LLC. This is the person you designate to receive legal service of process, as well as government forms and notices, on behalf of your LLC. He or she must have a physical street address (not a P.O. box).
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Minimal Compliance Requirements LLCs are subject to limited state mandated annual filing requirements and ongoing formalities. While corporations are typically required to have at least an annual meeting of directors and shareholders (and initial meeting of the same), adopt bylaws, and keep minutes of all meetings and all formal corporate resolutions, an LLC is not required to do any of those things (see the explanation of an operating agreement, above). The LLC members may have whatever meetings they wish and may document any such things as they wish, however they are not required to do so.
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LLP, Limited Liability Partnership: a partnership where a partner's liability for the debts of the partnership is limited except in the case of liability for acts of professional negligence or malpractice. In some states, LLPs may only be formed for purposes of practicing a licensed profession, typically attorneys, accountants and architects. This is often the only form of limited partnership allowed for law firms (as opposed to general partnerships).
Versatile Tax Status One of the most advantageous aspects of the LLC is that it has the ability to choose how it is treated as a taxable entity. According to the IRS an LLC is, by default, federally taxed as a partnership (in the case of a multi-member LLC) or as a sole proprietor (in the case of a single member LLC). The LLC, however, may elect to be taxed as a C- or S-corporation at any time the members so choose.
To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. Corporations will need an "articles of incorporation" document, which includes your business name, business purpose, corporate structure, stock details and other information about your company. Otherwise, you will just need to register your business name, which can be your legal name, a fictitious "doing business as" name (if you are the sole proprietor), or the name you've come up with for your company. You may also want to take steps to trademark your business name for extra legal protection.
The application required for incorporating as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is called the Articles of Incorporation (also referred to as a Certificate of Incorporation). This document contains basic information about the company, its owners, and its directors. Depending on your state of incorporation, there may also be state-level fees or taxes that must be paid.
Some businesses are prevented from forming an LLC, however. Typically financial companies such as banks, financial trust companies and insurance agencies can't file as an LLC. LLCs are sometimes limited for industries in certain states, too. For example, if you live in California, you can't form an LLC if you're an architect, accountant or licensed health care provider. Check out our LLC information by state for more details on your state.
File with the appropriate federal, state, and local governmental agencies. Depending on the business purpose of your LLC and the jurisdiction in which you organize, you may have to file additional forms relating to LLCs with certain governmental agencies. Each industry is regulated differently—as is each local jurisdiction—and so it is best to ask an attorney or accountant for assistance in this matter.
With the proper planning, limited liability companies can exist for generations. S-Corps continue to exist even if the owners or majority shareholders leave or pass away. C-Corps continue to exist even if the owners or majority shareholders leave or pass away. Non-Profit organizations and institutions survive after their directors leave. Sole Proprietorships do not exist when the owner quits or passes away.
LLC members are taxed on their personal tax returns. The LLC itself is not taxed. S-Corp shareholders are taxed on their personal tax returns. The company itself is not taxed. C-Corps are taxed both at the corporate level and again on shareholders' individual returns. Non-Profits are taxed on a corporate level but may also enjoy a host of tax-exempt benefits. Sole Proprietorships are taxed only on their owner's tax return.