How to file a corporation online
Filing a Corporation Online
I am an advocate of filing corporate entities online. Several states have created wonderful online filing systems, including New York, Colorado and Pennsylvania. However, my two states of practice, California and Nevada, have remained in the dark ages and require paper filings. California takes two months to process an LLC, and it can only be mailed into the California Secretary of State, not hand delivered or expedited. California does allow expedite service for standard corporations, and if delivered in person to a regional office, can be processed in a week.
Nevada, while not allowing online filing for incorporation, does have annual renewal processing online. Arizona’s Corporate Commission is faster than either California or Nevada, but does not use any type of online processing. In addition, Arizona does not even have a PDF form that uses a “fill in” functionality. You must hand-write or type (as in typewriter?) the form to incorporate in Arizona.
Each state varies in how it processes incorporation documentation. Some states require publication after filing (similar to dba or fictitious name filing rules) where the incorporation is published in a local newspaper for a period of time. Other states require that you obtain a name clearance first. Alabama requires a name clearance, followed by a filing to the county probate court, which then sends the application to the Alabama Secretary of State. You have to send two fees for Alabama, one for probate and one for the Secretary of State.
Most states have a “post filing” fee of some kind. California charges only $20 for an annual statement of information, but a wholly different division of California will send you a bill for $800 for a minimum corporate tax on any pass-through entity in the state that has shareholders or members in the state. Nevada has no such tax, but the annual List of Officers/Members will cost you $125 the first year and $75 each year after that.
States vary of whether the articles of organization or articles of incorporation must be signed by the designated resident agent or not. Most states require that an “organizer” sign the articles, but states like Nevada require that the resident agent agree to accept the role as resident agent. Some states, such as Minnesota, require that the members/shareholders sign and also submit social security numbers with the organizational forms.
I’m compiling a list of links to Secretary of State websites for all 50 states. I would like to link directly to those that allow online filing as well. If any of my site users know of any state that has easy online filing, shoot me an email with the link.
Finally, once a corporation has been filed and received a filing date from the state, the corporation will need its own tax identification (tax ID number or TIN or TID). The IRS site has an online form for this, which is not too complicated: https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/sa_vign/newFormSS4.do