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Start an LLC

Protect your personal assets and gain credibility with a limited liability company.
State of formation
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Call us at (888) 627-1186

Gary J. | Owner, Green Energy Solutions
Incorporated using Rocket Lawyer in 2012

How to start an LLC

Form an LLC online with fast, personalized support.

Tell us about your business

Answer a few simple questions.

We do the paperwork for you

We reserve your business name and take care of your filing.

Stay protected

Get affordable legal services for every stage of growth.

Choose a business structure

Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each entity type to find the one that's best for your business.

LLC

S-corp

C-corp

Nonprofit

Sole proprietorship

Managing your business

Limited liability

Incorporation can protect business owners and shareholders from personal financial responsibility for business debts or liability.

Members are protected

Shareholders are protected

Shareholders are protected

Directors are protected

Sole proprietors are not protected

Management flexibility

Some entities are more rigid than others when it comes to structure.

Variety of management structures

Defined by state and federal law

Defined by state and federal law

Strict management laws

No management structure

Favorable for financing

Depending on your goals, certain entity types may be more suitable.

Gains credibility when applying for loans and grants

Can distribute one class of stock to up to 100 people

Can issue multiple classes of stock to unlimited shareholders

Gains credibility when applying for loans and grants

Often more difficult to get loans and cannot issue stock

Maintenance

Compliance requirements vary by state and entity type

Easy to maintain and often most affordable

Payroll requirements may create operational overhead

Requires more complex accounting and potentially more reporting and fees

Typically the most demanding due to tax-exempt status

No requirements or fees

Unlimited lifetime

Succession planning may be important to you. If so, you'll need a business structure that enables a smooth transition.

With the proper planning, LLCs can exist for generations

Existence is not tied to specific shareholders

Existence is not tied to specific shareholders

Existence is not tied to specific directors

No longer exists when the owner quits or passes away

Tax considerations

Tax treatment

Your choice of entity can impact your tax rate and filing options.

Pass-through taxes: Most often, LLC members are taxed on their personal tax returns

Pass-through taxes: S-corp shareholders are taxed on their personal tax returns

Double taxation: C-corp income is taxed at the corporate level first, then again at the personal level

Nonprofits can apply for tax-exempt status and donations are tax-deductible

Sole proprietorships are taxed only on their owner's tax return.

Formation fees

State filing fees are required for all legal entities. As a Rocket Lawyer member, you only pay state fees.

Fees are tax-deductible

Fees are tax-deductible

Fees are tax-deductible

Fees are tax-deductible

No fees

Limited Liability Company FAQs

  • What is an LLC?

    An LLC is a relatively new type of business organization. The first LLC law was passed in 1977. Since then, every state has enacted legislation allowing the formation of LLCs.

    LLCs share a significant characteristic with corporations: limited liability. Corporate officers, directors, and shareholders cannot be held liable for any debts of the corporation unless they are liable under other laws. This is true only if management takes care to preserve the corporate formalities, such as maintaining separate bank accounts, holding regular meetings, making minutes of those meetings, and generally treating the corporation as a distinct entity under the law. If management fails to take the steps, then the law allows the "piercing of the corporate veil" which can subject officers, directors, and shareholders to individual liability. An LLC has the same protections from liability as the corporation—and the same vulnerability if not treated as a separate entity.

    LLCs also share a significant characteristic with partnerships, or, if the LLC is owned by a single member, with individual taxpayers. Income to an LLC is not taxed at the entity level. Instead, it is included in the income tax returns of the partners or single individuals who own the LLC.

  • What are Articles of Organization for an LLC?

    To organize an LLC, you must file a document with the state in which the LLC is to be created. This document is usually called the Articles of Organization, but sometimes it is called something else, depending upon the state. The Articles of Organization state the name of the LLC, its business address, and the types of business the LLC will engage in.

    The Articles of Organization also state the name and address of the registered agent for the LLC. The registered agent is the person or company that serves as the contact point between the state and the LLC. The registered agent also receives official correspondence from other businesses.

  • How long does it take to get an LLC?

    How long it takes to get an LLC depends upon the state in which it is organized. In the past, organizers would mail Articles of Organization to the state, along with the required filing fee. Later, some states began authorizing fax filing. Today, most states have set up e-filing systems that allow filing of various documents, usually including Articles of Organization for an LLC.

    Again, depending upon the state, registration of the LLC can be accomplished online in real time. When that occurs, an LLC can be completely set up in only a day or two. However, other states have significant lag times, some in the range of two to three weeks for approval, even if the registration is filed online.

    Some states include on their websites the expected wait time to process a filing. Others state the date of the most current documents they have processed to give people an idea of how long it will take for approval of a filing.

    In short, it can take between a day or two and the better part of a month to organize an LLC.

  • How much does it cost to form an LLC?

    State filing fees vary greatly, from $40 to as high as $500. Your state of incorporation might also charge an annual fee to keep your LLC current.

    You can file to form an LLC on your own by providing all the paperwork, meeting the legal requirements, and managing the required steps through your state's specific filing system(s) and processes.

    You can also call on the Business Services team at Rocket Lawyer to help you navigate the processes and systems and to ensure you have all the legal requirements met in order to file quickly and correctly. You will only pay your state filing fees if you sign up for a new Rocket Lawyer membership ($39.99 per month). Without a membership, the LLC filing costs are still only $99.99 plus the state fees.

    If your business does not have a physical address in your state (P.O. boxes are not acceptable substitutions), you may be required to have a registered agent. Registered agents accept official and legal correspondence on behalf of your business. The Business Services team can set you up with a registered agent for only $149.99, with an added discount of 25% with a new membership.

  • What are the benefits of forming a single-member LLC?

    There are benefits to forming your own LLC, even if you work alone. The main benefit is liability protection. Depending on how you file, there may or may not be tax advantages.

    Limited Liability: Forming an LLC can help protect your personal assets. If your business fails or if you are sued, your business is sued and not you personally. In most cases, unless you assign personal assets as collateral, these assets may be protected if your business declares bankruptcy or is on the losing side of a lawsuit.

    Federal Taxes: You can file taxes as a "disregarded entity" or as a corporation. If you file as a "disregarded entity," then you are liable for pass-through taxes. This means you file your business income with your personal taxes and you will have to pay self-employment taxes. If you file as a corporation, your business files as a business separate from your personal taxes. You'll benefit from discussing with your accountant what option may be best for you.

Popular business entities

Explore more entities to find the best fit for your business.

Form an S-corp

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Form a C-corp

Set your business up for scale. Great for venture capital, a C corporation allows for multiple classes of stock.

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Form a nonprofit

Make your organization official. Let us help you start your nonprofit on the right path.

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Questions? We’re here to help

Our business specialists have helped incorporate thousands of businesses like yours. We'll walk you through the entire process step by step and answer any questions you might have.

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