LLC, Business License, Incorporation

California remains one of our most popular states for incorporation and LLC formation. With the largest population in the United States, California has a thriving business community. Some of the largest U.S. companies, including Countrywide Financial and Apple, maintain their headquarters in California. This state also services many small businesses, particularly in major industries like entertainment, agriculture, and technology.

In the state of California, the Secretary of State Business Entities Section will process and maintain records of all business entities including partnerships, sole proprietorships, corporations, limited liability companies and other business filings. When you are ready to incorporate in California, it is necessary to file the Articles of Incorporation that California requires. Starting in 2012, California incorporation processes require that you choose between two subtypes of corporations: a flexible purpose corporation or a benefit corporation when setting up your California corporation.

Cost to Incorporate in California

California incorporation fees are $100 for filing the articles of incorporation with the state plus an additional $15 over-the-counter handling fee. The cost to incorporate in California also involves filing an initial report, called the California statement of information within 90 days of your incorporation, which costs a state fee of $25 or $20 for a non-profit corporation plus a $75 service fee. On an annual basis, the Secretary of State requires that corporations file an annual report by the end of your anniversary month, which also costs $25. If you select The Company Corporation to file your articles of incorporation in the state of California, the statement of information filing and fees can be included in your purchase.

California Incorporation Services

While it is possible to file your own articles of incorporation, many entrepreneurs and new business owners choose to look for comprehensive California incorporation services to help ensure they have completed all of the necessary paperwork and requirements.

The Company Corporation provides a full range of California incorporation services to help you fill out and file your articles of incorporation, your initial report, and research the availability of your chosen company name.

Once your business is formed, you can also appoint TCC as your California Registered Agent. A Registered Agent is required by the state of California to ensure that all official state and legal paperwork for your company is received.

Articles of Incorporation

When incorporating in California, you will need to include articles of incorporation. Articles of Incorporation include the name of the business, the location, the number of stock shares the company is authorized to issue and details about the management team and board of directors. The Company Corporation can help you complete the Articles of Incorporation and file them quickly and inexpensively.

California Incorporation: FAQ

How to Incorporate in California?

There are many steps to starting a business. If you're still wondering how to incorporate in California, here is a brief overview of the steps to incorporating:

  1. Make sure your chosen business name is available under California rules and regulations.
  2. File California articles of incorporation.
  3. Have your organizational meeting and create your company bylaws.
  4. Get your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and open your incorporation's bank account.
  5. Get business licenses from the county and/or city where you will do business.
  6. Submit your initial report, called a Statement of Information, within 90 days.

Why Incorporate in California?

The primary reason business owners decide to incorporate in California is to provide greater protection for their personal assets from business judgments. When you proceed with incorporation in California, your business becomes its own entity and your personal assets are not part of the business.

Incorporation for California Nonprofit Organizations

If you are setting up a nonprofit organization, then you will need to file Articles of Incorporation for a California nonprofit. The exact type of your nonprofit articles of incorporation will depend on the activities your nonprofit organization performs. The Company Corporation can assist you with filing the forms for your nonprofit with the state of California.

Ready to Incorporate in California? Get Started

A California LLC, or Limited Liability Company, has a number of advantages over corporations. A California LLC business structure limits owners' liability to the LLC for only their financial investment into the company. For tax purposes, a California LLC with a single owner is treated as a sole proprietorship while an LLC with multiple owners is classified as a partnership.

Costs and Fees of Starting a California LLC

The California LLC fee is $85 payable to the Secretary of State. In addition, you are required to submit a statement of information within 90 days of starting your LLC, along with a $20 filing fee. If you choose to work with The Company Corporation, the California LLC fees are included in the services you choose to purchase from us. We will make starting your LLC easier and ensure you have everything you need to legally operate your business.

Having an LLC means you are also required to pay ongoing fees. The California LLC fee schedule includes a California LLC annual fee, which is $800 annually, and is due within 3.5 months of forming your LLC and then every April 15th thereafter.

The California LLC tax fee is based on the LLC's total income received from all worldwide sources.

California LLC Taxes and Annual Fees
(Tax years 2001 - present)

Total Income (Fiscal year) LLC Tax + LLC Fee = Total CA Taxes
< $250,000 (incl. any loss) $800 $0 $800
$250,000 - $499,999 $800 $900 $1,700
$500,000 - $999,999 $800 $2,500 $3,300
$1,000,000 - $4,999,999 $800 $6,000 $6,800
$5,000,000 + $800 $11,790 $12,590

California LLC Forms Needed

Starting a business is overwhelming and most new entrepreneurs are afraid they're going to forget to file a necessary form or agreement. The Corporation Company helps you file California LLC forms to start your business as well as forms required for ongoing reporting, including the California LLC 12.

We will complete and submit the articles of incorporation, or California LLC-1, based on the information that you enter on our website. We make sure it is filed correctly so you can get your business up and running right away.

If you are looking to register an LLC from another state that is doing business in California, then you may need to qualify that LLC in California. The Company Corporation can file the paperwork to Qualify in California by completing the California LLC-5 with the information that you provide to us on our web site. This filing has a filing cost of $310. California also requires a Certificate of Good Standing from the state where the LLC is registered. This fee varies by state.

How to Get Started with Your California LLC Filing & Registration

When preparing to start a California LLC if you have more than one member (owner), you may want to consider a California LLC operating agreement though an operating agreement is not required in the state. An operating agreement is a legal agreement that indicates how managing members will conduct the business. It is typical that you file the paperwork for a California LLC at the same time as your California LLC operating agreement.

The first step to starting your business is to select a name. Under the laws of the state, a California LLC registration for a business name must end with LLC, L.L.C. or Limited Liability Company. The Company Corporation will verify that the name you select is available in California.

Once your name has been selected and verified you can move forward with your California LLC filing and complete the Articles of Organization to file with the Secretary of State. You need to appoint a registered agent who agrees to accept any legal paperwork on behalf of your LLC if you are ever sued. The Company Corporation will serve as your registered agent for the first 6 to 12 months (depending on the package you select) at no additional fee.

The next step of the process is to file a California LLC statement of information with the California Secretary of State within 90 days of setting up your LLC. The Company Corporation will help you with this as well. California LLC processing time can vary based on the filing type.

After You Have Your California LLC

After all of your initial paperwork has been completed and filed, you will need to keep track of any annual fees and taxes owed from your business – including a California LLC tax return every tax period. If you need to file a California LLC extension, you should submit form FTB 3537. Just remember if you owe money, it is expected on the original return due date, and the California LLC extension is only for the filing of the paperwork itself.

For business owners who wish to end their business, a California LLC dissolution is required. File a Certificate of Dissolution (Form LLC-3) and a Certificate of Cancellation (Form LLC-4/7) to cancel your Articles of Organization.

Ready to Incorporate in California? Get Started

Most business types require a California business license or permit to operate legally in the state of California. Businesses in California range across a wide range of industries, including entertainment, technology, medical and agricultural. If you are thinking about starting your own business, you will want to understand California business license requirements and attain a state of California business license application form. California is the most populated state in the country and offers many opportunities for success to business owners.

Documents Needed

When you are ready to apply for a small business license in California, you will need to start compiling the necessary documentation. Business license applications in California depend upon the type of business and the jurisdiction that the business is in. The information required on a California business license application form varies depending on the type of business you plan to start, and which business structure you decide to use: corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship or partnership. The Company Corporation can research the business license needed for your specific industry and provide you with the appropriate applications.

If your business sells goods or hires employees, you will need to register with the tax authorities for reporting sales tax and employee payroll information.

Business License California Cost and Fees

Most small business owners are on a budget, and understanding the California business license cost is necessary to figuring out how much money you will need to launch your new business venture. When it comes to a small business license for California, most cities and local jurisdictions charge between $50 and $100.

How to Get Started

All businesses in the State of California need a license to operate for each location where they conduct business. This is true for a newly started business, a business you purchase from an existing business owner, a home-based business, rental properties, street-vendor businesses, and contractors.

California business license requirements may vary slightly from city to city, which is why using a service like The Company Corporation will help ensure you have what you need to operate your company legally for your specific location.

After You Have Your California Business License

Once you have successfully started your business and are operating legally with your business license in place, you will not have any issues with a California business license verification process. If someone was to check the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs to ensure your company has the proper licensing in place, your business license would be verified.

Some industries require annual business license renewals. If you need a California business license renewal you will need your business license number from your original California business license application and the security code that should be found on the renewal notice you receive in the mail.

Too busy to research your licensing requirements? We can help.

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