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Forming an LLC is a process that differs from state to state and may have a number of specific requirements depending on the business you want to open.
However, there are some key documents you will always need in order to set up your LLC.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- The documentation you need to form an LLC
- Where you need to file your paperwork
- Why these documents are important.
And much more. Let’s get started.
The 7 documents you need to form an LLC
- Articles of organization
- IRS form SS-4
- LLC operating agreement
- Employee identification number
- Business license
- Tax registrations
- Annual reports
1. Articles of Organization
Forming the backbone structure of your LLC, the articles of organization are the documents you file that outline the framework and formation of your business.
Articles of organization establish your LLC with the state government, and each state has its own process for outlining what standards must be met by the articles of organization.
Many states offer templates for articles of organization that will outline the key information they need to see, rather than having you write the articles from scratch.
You can also engage the services of a lawyer to help guide you through the process.
Any LLC, like Coca-Cola, has articles of organization filed with the state government in which they are registered.
LLCs must file articles of organization in the state they are headquartered, but must register in every state they are doing business in.
Articles of organization generally include:
- Business name
- Business purpose
- Principal business address
- LLC management
- Registered agent contact details
- LLC duration
2. IRS Form SS-4
An SS-4 IRS Form is the form that you need to apply for an Employer Identification Number or EIN.
An EIN, as stated on the IRS website, is used:
“to apply for an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN is a 9-digit number (for example, 12-3456789) assigned to employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, certain individuals, and other entities for tax filing and reporting purposes.”
3. LLC Operating Agreement
An operating agreement outlines the liabilities and terms of an LLC in accordance with the needs of its members.
Each member of an LLC signs the operating agreement, which then becomes the basis for business dealings.
Operating agreements are not technically a legal requirement for forming a new LLC, but they do provide the terms for the running of the business.
It also establishes the legal boundary between the members and the LLC.
If an LLC does not have its own bespoke operating agreement, then the business is run according to the default rules of the state in which it operates.
4. Employee Identification Number
Although an employer identification number sounds like it only matters if you have employees, in reality, an EIN has more to do with paying taxes than it does strictly with having employees.
An employer identification number is the number used to identify your business when you pay federal taxes online and also to issue tax and payroll documents.
You can get an EIN by filing an SS-4 Form with the IRS, or by requesting the number directly online.
5. Business License
A business license is a legal recognition from the government that your LLC is authorized to conduct business.
Depending on what industry your LLC is in, you will need certain local, state, or federal licenses.
Local licenses can be required to operate particular machinery or work with certain chemicals or in certain areas.
Check with your county clerk to see what licenses you need. State licenses vary from state to state, but you may need a license to work as a plumber, mechanic, in real estate, or as a collection agency.
Be sure to research your state laws to assess whether your business needs a state license to operate.
Some industries also require federal licenses for things like operating aircraft or importing firearms.
Business licenses are an important feature of an LLC, and if you operate within a licensed industry without the appropriate license, you can be fined or shuttered by the government.
6. Tax Registrations
LLCs are pass-through entities, which means that the business itself doesn’t pay tax.
Instead, each member pays tax on business profits as part of their individual tax returns.
That being said, the members of an LLC can opt to be taxed as a corporation rather than as a pass-through entity.
In this case, the taxation rate will be different and you will need to register your LLC for tax purposes.
7. Annual Reports
LLCs must file annual reports. Annual Reports are a comprehensive outline of business actions and activity throughout the year.
Annual reports give stakeholders of all types a good picture of what a business has done in the past year and how its strategy has played out.
Annual reports are required by law as part of keeping stakeholders informed, so you must create annual reports that meet your state’s requirements for information.
Not filing an annual report will mean that your LLC will not be considered “in good standing” with the state, and as such it will be difficult for you to secure loans or expand your business.
If you leave it too long, the state can dissolve your business.
Recommended reading: How much does it cost to start an LLC?
Are you ready to form your LLC?
Forming an LLC is a great way to take your business to the next level. It gives you the flexibility to operate locally or internationally, raise capital, and be taxed however suits you best.
We’ve covered some of the key LLC documents you’ll need to form an LLC, run it, and stay compliant with your state government.
You can engage the services of an LLC formation company like Swyft Filings to help you deliver the appropriate paperwork to form your business, and you can retain a business lawyer to walk you through any questions you have.
Understanding these key documents will give you the basic information you need to go forward with planning your LLC.