Corp., Inc., Corporation, Incorporated: used to denote corporations (public or otherwise). These are the only terms universally accepted by all 51 corporation chartering jurisdictions in the United States. However, in some states other suffixes may be used to identify a corporation, such as Ltd., Co./Company, or the Italian term S.p.A. (in Connecticut; see under Italy). Some states that allow the use of "Company" prohibit the use of "and Company", "and Co.", "& Company" or "& Co.". In most states sole proprietorships and partnerships may register a fictitious "doing business as" name with the word "Company" in it. For a full list of allowed designations by state, see the table below.
When you're searching for B2B partners, you'll have to choose carefully. These companies will have access to vital and potentially sensitive business data, so it's critical to find someone you can trust. In our guide to choosing business partners, our expert sources recommended asking potential vendors about their experience in your industry, their track record with existing clients, and what kind of growth they've helped other clients achieve.
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.
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For businesses in industries like construction or real estate, where unforeseen circumstances and hazardous conditions may hold the owner responsible, consider starting an LLC. The protection gained means you will not be held personally liable, protecting you and your family from litigation or the debts of the business. An LLC may not be the best choice for business owners who plan on raising capital through outside investment. LLCs are not public structures and do not have shareholders, so taking a company public is not an option either. However, in the event that you'd like to take your business public you may switch to a public legal structure, like a C corporation, later on.
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.
All formal business entities, including LLCs, are required to have a Registered Agent on file with the state at all times. The agent may be an individual or company with a physical address located in the state of incorporation. Agents must be available at all times during standard business hours (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday – Friday). The role of a Registered Agent is to receive any and all of communications from the government to the business. The agent’s name and address must be disclosed as part of the company’s public record.
After you've completed the steps described above, your LLC is official. But before you open your doors for business, you need to obtain the licenses and permits that all new businesses must have to operate. These may include a business license (sometimes also referred to as a "tax registration certificate"), a federal employer identification number, a sellers' permit, or a zoning permit. For more on business licenses and permits, see the Licenses & Permits for Your Business area of Nolo's website.
Bennett is a B2B editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg, he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU's student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing.
Tasks like naming the business and creating a logo are obvious, but what about the less-heralded, equally important steps? Whether it's determining your business structure or crafting a detailed marketing strategy, the workload can quickly pile up. Rather than spinning your wheels and guessing at where to start, follow this 10-step checklist to transform your business from a lightbulb above your head to a real entity.
Limited liability companies must pay state fees during the incorporation process. These fees can be deducted from taxes. S-Corps must pay state fees to legally incorporate. These fees can be deducted from taxes. C-Corps must pay state fees to become legally recognized. These fees can be deducted from taxes. Non-Profits pay state fees when they incorporate. These fees can be deducted from taxes. Since Sole Proprietorships aren't incorporated entities, they don't pay formation or compliance fees.
Unlike in many other Western countries, Canadian businesses generally only have one form of incorporation available. Unlimited liability corporations can be formed in Alberta "AULC", British Columbia "BCULC" and Nova Scotia "NSULC". The aforementioned unlimited liability corporations are generally not used as operating business structures, but are instead used to create favorable tax positions for either Americans investing in Canada or vice versa. For U.S. tax purposes the ULC is classified as a disregarded entity.