/FAQ

Annual Reports – FAQs

Happy March! This month, we’re discussing Annual Reports and why they are pertinent to your business.

Q: What is an Annual Report?
A: Also known as a Statement of Information, the Annual Report essentially keeps the state up to date with your company’s vital information. For example, you may be asked to submit information about directors and officers, and the registered agent and office address of the company, especially if any of this has changed in the last year. In most states, there’s also a small filing fee associated with the report.

Q: Do I need to file an annual report for an LLC?
A: While an LLC involves significantly less formal administration than a corporation, LLCs are still required to file an Annual Report in most states. Not every state requires an Annual Report – and each state has its own rules on how often and when the report must be paid. The first thing to do is to understand the requirements for your state; you can either contact your secretary of state office or sign up for CorpNet’s free B.I.Z. service. B.I.Z. is free to any small business (whether you incorporated through CorpNet or not) and sends you alerts for any upcoming deadlines.

Q: What are the consequences for failing to file an annual report when required?
A: Missing an Annual Report deadline can result in late penalties and fees, and who wants to pay money unnecessarily? In the worst case scenario, your company can be suspended or dissolved.

Do you need help filing an annual report or have questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Foreign Qualifying your Business – FAQs

Happy February! With winter now in full swing, we will be talking about a way to get away from the cold with Foreign Qualifying! This month, we discuss the opportunities of Foreign Qualification into another state and what the requirements are for those states.

 

Q: What is foreign qualification?

A: A corporation or LLC transacting business in a state(s) outside of their state of incorporation is typically required to foreign qualify in those other states.

 

Q: What constitutes transacting business in another state and when do I need to foreign qualify?

A: As examples, your company is considered to be transacting business in an additional state if…

  • You have a physical presence in the state
  • You have employees in the state
  • You accept orders in the state
  • You have a bank account in the state

State rules vary and this isn’t a complete list. If you have any questions about whether you need to foreign qualify in a state, you can speak with an attorney.

 

Q: If I incorporated in Delaware or Nevada (but don’t live/work there), does this mean I need to foreign qualify in my own state?

A: Delaware is often chosen as the state of incorporation, especially by larger companies, because it has the most developed and flexible corporate statutes in the country and is considered pro-business.  Nevada has also become popular because of its lack of state corporate income tax, franchise tax and personal income tax.  It also has relatively low fees.

However, if you incorporate out-of-state, such as in Delaware or in Nevada, but do much of your business in your home state, you will most likely need to foreign qualify in your own state. You will then be subject to the same fees, taxes and regulations as if you had incorporated there in the first place, and you will have paid filing fees (and, perhaps franchise taxes) to more than one state.

Example: If you have a small business and are going to be conducting a substantial amount of your business in California, it will likely be beneficial to incorporate in the state of California. If you incorporate out-of-state, such as in Delaware or in Nevada, but do much of your business in California, you will have to foreign qualify in the state of California. You will then be subject to the same fees, taxes and regulations as if you had incorporated in the California in the first place, and you will have paid state filing fees (and, perhaps franchise taxes) not only in the state of California but also to the state of Delaware or Nevada as well.

 

Q: What is the process to foreign qualify?

A: You will need to file a Certificate of Authority, which grants a foreign corporation/LLC permission to transact business in a state. In most cases, you will need to show a Certificate of Good Standing from your state of incorporation/formation in order to get a Certificate of Authority.

 

Do you have a question regarding Foreign Qualifications? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

 

 

Business Information Zone (B.I.Z) – FAQs

Welcome January and 2017! With the holidays behind us and a bright new year ahead of us, it is a great time to start a business.  This month, we discuss the ways CorpNet can assist with our Business Information Zone or B.I.Z. in keeping your company in compliance!

Q: What is B.I.Z.?
A: Think of B.I.Z. as your business’ personal concierge service. Once you sign up, you’ll receive email reminders on tax and compliance alerts. You can also use B.I.Z. to store your business documents, and keep a personalized business profile that tracks important data about your company — such as formation date, Federal Tax ID number, business licenses and permits, and more.

Q: I didn’t use CorpNet to form my business, can I still use B.I.Z.?
A: Absolutely. Any Corporation, LLC, nonprofit, or professional company can use B.I.Z. to stay on top of their yearly compliance requirements. It doesn’t matter if you formed your company through CorpNet or not.

Q: It states that B.I.Z. is free. Is there a catch?
A: No. B.I.Z. is completely free, no strings attached. We know how challenging it can be to run a small business – and sometimes all the tedious state filing and fees can fall through the cracks. Small business owners don’t always know when their annual report is due or why their business fell into bad standing with the state. We created B.I.Z. to help small businesses keep track of all these filings, so they don’t have to pay an extra dime in fees or risk falling into bad standing just because they missed a deadline.

Q: What information do I need to create an account for free compliance monitoring on B.I.Z.?
A: You will need the following information: your business type (e.g. C Corporation or LLC), your filing state (where you filed your corporation/LLC paperwork), and your filing date (the registration date of your corporation/LLC with the state).

Q: Why do you need to know my filing date for B.I.Z.?
A: Each state has its own rules regarding when and how often corporations and LLCs are required to file their annual report. By knowing when you formed your LLC/corporation, we can send you an email alert before your annual report is due.

Q: What particular deadlines does B.I.Z. track?
A: B.I.Z. will track and notify you of upcoming compliance deadlines with the state, such as your Annual Report (if required in your state). It will also alert you of upcoming tax deadlines based on your business type. In addition, if you provide information about your business licenses and permits, B.I.Z. will alert you when they’re coming up for renewal.

Q: Can I keep track of multiple businesses with B.I.Z.?
A: Yes, you can monitor multiple businesses from a single B.I.Z. dashboard. It’s an ideal for attorneys and CPAs to keep track of their clients’ businesses.

Do you need help registering a business or have questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Filing an LLC – FAQ

We are excited to bring you another post in our monthly FAQ series! This month, our CEO Nellie Akalp is answering questions about one of the hottest entity types for small businesses – the LLC. What are the requirements of filing an LLC? What are the benefits? Read on to find out!

Q: What are the benefits of forming an LLC?

A: In an LLC, the owner’s personal assets are shielded from business liabilities just as they would be in a corporation. In addition, the IRS views the LLC as a “disregarded entity.” Thus, an LLC does not file separate taxes; company profits and losses flow through to the owners and are subject to each owner’s individual tax rates. The LLC is great for a business that wants liability protection, but seeks minimal formality. It’s also the perfect structure for a business with foreign owners since anyone (C Corp, S Corp, another LLC, a trust, or an estate) can be an owner of an LLC.

Q: Do I need to prepare an Operating Agreement to form an LLC?

A: You’re not required to create an operating agreement in order to form an LLC, but in many states you will be required to keep an operating agreement at your place of business to maintain your corporate compliance. And even if your state does not require a formal operating agreement, it can be an important document to help clarify verbal agreements between owners and prevent misunderstandings.

Q: What is an Operating Agreement?

A: The Operating Agreement is an official contract that spells out the management and ownership of the LLC. It can outline details like how much of the company each member owns, everyone’s voting rights; how profits and losses should be distributed among the members; and what happens when someone wants to leave the business.

Q: Do I need to submit my LLC’s Operating Agreement?

A: You’re not required to submit a formal operating agreement to the state or any other entity. But, most states do require that an LLC has an operating agreement in place and kept at their place of business.

Q: Are there any differences between how an LLC and S Corporation are taxed?

A: Both the LLC and S Corporation can be taxed on a pass-through basis; taxes aren’t paid on the entity level, but at the individual owner level. Profits and losses are passed through and reported on the individual’s tax return. While both LLCs and S Corporations are pass-through entities, there are a few differences.

One difference is that the income of an LLC flows to the members involved with the business and is subject to self-employment tax. With an S Corporation, only salaries are subject to self-employment tax; any distributions that are paid out to members are not subject to self-employment tax.

Another key difference is that the LLC offers a lot more flexibility in terms of how owners can be taxed. With the S Corporation, owners must be taxed based on their pro rata ownership interests; if you own 50% of the business, then you’re taxed on 50% of the company’s profits. With an LLC, owners can determine their allocations for the year and be taxed accordingly.

Q: Can one person form an LLC?

A: Yes, all states allow one member LLCs.

Q: Does an LLC have stockholders?

A: No. LLCs are not permitted to issue stock in any state. Only corporations (C- or S-Corporations) can issue stock.

Q: How is an LLC structured?

A: LLCs have members – these are the owners of the LLC and are similar to stockholders in a corporation. Members typically receive an ownership stake in the LLC commensurate with their investment (either financial investment or ‘sweat equity’). In addition, members choose a manager to manage the LLC – this position is similar to a director of a corporation. A manager can be a member or could be someone from outside the LLC.

Q: Does an LLC need to hold an annual meeting?

A: No state requires an LLC to hold an annual meeting. This is one of the benefits of the LLC – it has fewer formalities than a corporation. However, if your LLC’s operating agreement requires an annual meeting (or other meetings), then you’ll need to hold such meetings in order to stay compliant. Many owners choose to make meetings optional in the operating agreement.

Q: What’s the difference between an LLC and PLLC?

A: In many states, licensed professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, architects, and accountants, aren’t allowed to form LLCs. Instead, these professionals can form a PLLC (Professional Limited Liability Company). One of the key differences between an LLC and PLLC is that members of the PLLC must be licensed professionals, and you’ll need to show proof of a valid license to register the PLLC. In most cases, members of a PLLC are personally liable for their own malpractice claims, but aren’t personally liable for another professional’s malpractice claims.

Do you need help registering an LLC or have a questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Setting Up a Corporation – FAQ

Happy November! We are excited to bring you another post in our monthly FAQ series!

When starting a business, one of the first questions an entrepreneur must ask themselves is, “What entity type should I register?” Here at CorpNet, we are often asked to explain the differences between a C Corporation and an S Corporation, how to file a corporation, and even, “What is a corporation?” In this month’s FAQ post, our CEO Nellie Akalp answers all your burning questions about corporations!

Q: What is a C Corporation

A: A C Corporation is a standard corporation. It is considered a separate entity from its owners. This means that the corporation is responsible for any of its debts and liabilities. This is often called the “corporate shield” as it protects the owner’s personal assets from debts and liabilities of the business.

A corporation has a formal structure consisting of shareholders, directors, officers and employees. Every corporation must select at least one person to serve on its board of directors and officers are required to manage the day-to-day activities of the company.

As a separate business entity, a corporation files its own tax returns. As a C corporation owner, you’ll need to file both a personal tax return and a business tax return. In some cases, this can result in a “double taxation” burden for small business owners (see the question on double taxation below for more details).

Q: How do I create a C Corporation? 

A: To create a C Corporation, you’ll need to file the proper formation documents, typically called the Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Incorporation, with your state’s secretary of state agency. You will also need to pay the necessary state filing fees. If you incorporate with CorpNet, you simply need to complete the online order form (or give us a call!). We’ll prepare the necessary paperwork and file it with the state.

Q: Who can form a C Corporation? 

A: There really aren’t any restrictions on who can form a C Corporation. Some states do require that the directors of a corporation are 18 and older, but there aren’t any age, residency, or other legal requirements for who can form a C Corporation. Keep in mind that the IRS places several restrictions on who can elect S Corporation status.

Q: What organizational roles are required in a C Corporation?

A: C Corporations have three groups: shareholders, directors, and officers. Shareholders own the C Corporation (via their shares of stock), yet the shareholders typically don’t manage the company. Shareholders do elect and remove directors, and can vote on major corporate issues.

The board of directors manages the affairs of the C Corporation, and can appoint and oversee officers. It’s the officers who are responsible for the day to day management of the corporation.

It’s possible to be a shareholder, director, and officer. In fact, in most states, you can be the sole shareholder, director, and officer for your C Corporation.

Q: What’s the minimum number of directors required for my C Corporation?

A: Most states allow just one director for a C Corporation, but you can have more. In some states, the minimum number of directors depends on the number of shareholders.

Q: What is double taxation?

A: Income earned by a C corporation is typically taxed at corporate income tax rates. Then, after the corporate income tax is paid, any distributions made to stockholders are taxed again as dividends on the stockholders’ personal tax returns. This is often called “double taxation” since corporate profits are first taxed on the corporation and then dividends are reported on the individual stockholder’s return.

Q: What is the difference between a C Corporation and S Corporation?

A: C Corporations are subject to double taxation as described above. A C Corporation entity is required to pay tax at the corporate level. An S Corporation is considered a pass-through entity for tax purposes. This means that the company’s profits and loss are passed through to the individual shareholder’s tax return (and each shareholder is typically taxed on the company’s profits based on their share of stock ownership).

Q: What are the benefits to forming a C Corporation compared with an S Corporation?

A: A C Corporation can offer greater tax flexibility. In addition, if you’ll be keeping the profits within company (as opposed to distributing dividends to shareholders), then the C Corporation can shield shareholders from direct tax liability.

Q: Can I form a Corporation with just one person?

A: Yes. A Corporation can have just one shareholder. Keep in mind that even if you’re the sole shareholder, you will still need to comply with corporate formalities such as director and shareholder meetings, and keeping meeting minutes.

Q: If I have multiple businesses, what’s the best way to legally structure them?

A: There are three different ways to structure multiple businesses. There are advantages and disadvantages for each approach – and the best structure will depend on your personal situation.

  • You can file an LLC or corporation for each of your businesses. This approach isolates the risk to each individual business, but involves maintenance fees and paperwork for each of the LLCs/corporations.
  • You can file one LLC or corporation, and then set up multiple DBAs (Doing Business As) for each of the other businesses. With this approach, you just need to pay your annual LLC/corporation maintenance fees for the LLC/corporation (and not each individual DBA). However, each DBA isn’t protected from the other DBAs. So if one DBA is sued, all the other DBAs under the main LLC/corporation are liable.
  • In the third approach, you can create individual Corporations/LLCs for each of your businesses and put them under one main holding Corporation/LLC.

Q: What is your Express Filing Service?

A: It’s a way to reduce your formation filing timeframe and get your corporation set up faster – sometimes as fast as 24 hours or even the same day! To understand the express filing timeline, it’s important to understand there are two different processing times: CorpNet and the state.

With the Express Filing Service, we’ll process your documents the same day (if submitted, Monday through Friday, before 4 pm PST). Depending on your state, we’ll hand deliver, fax, or send your documents via courier – whatever your particular state/county allows as the fastest option.

Then, the state office is instructed to process your filing as an expedited filing. State processing time estimates vary by state, and not all states support expedited filings. When you fill out your incorporation package online, you will see if the expedited service is available in your state and what the state’s estimated processing times are.

Do you need help registering a corporation or have a questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

                               

Applying for an EIN – FAQ

We are excited to bring you another post in our monthly FAQ series!

This month, we are discussing an integral part of business formations – EINs. An EIN (Employee Identification Number) is also known as a Federal Tax ID Number or FEIN. Whether a corporation or LLC, obtaining an EIN is an important part of starting a business!

Check out our CEO Nellie Akalp‘s answers to your burning questions below:

Q: What is an EIN?

A: An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is like a social security number for businesses It’s how the IRS identifies your company and tracks its activities.

Q: Who needs to get an EIN?

A: Your business is required to get an EIN if any of the following apply:

  • Your business is structured as a corporation or partnership
  • You have employees
  • You have a Keough plan
  • You file any of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
  • You’re involved with certain organizations as defined by the IRS

In addition, you’ll most likely need an EIN in open to open a business bank account and credit card.

Q: I’m a sole proprietor without any employees, can I get an EIN?

A: Yes, if you don’t fall into any of categories listed above, you’re not required by law to have an EIN for your business, but you still can get one. The main advantage in filing for an EIN as a sole proprietor is that you won’t need to give out your personal social security number to clients, vendors, and other business contacts.

 

Do you need help applying for an EIN or have a questions regarding the process? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

                               

By | October 6th, 2016|Business Banking, Business Filings, FAQ, Starting a Business|0 Comments

Filing a DBA – FAQ

This month in our FAQ series, we tackle the most commonly asked questions about one of the most popular entity types – the DBA.

Starting a business can be overwhelming, and one of the first and most important steps is choosing a business entity. A DBA, which stands for “Doing Business As”, is also known as a fictitious business name or assumed business name. A sole proprietor can file a DBA in order to operate under their preferred business name, or a DBA can be filed underneath an existing corporation or LLC in order to advertise as or accept payments under an alternative name. Below are some of the most common questions and answers our CEO Nellie Akalp receives regarding the DBA:

Q: If I’m a sole proprietor, do I need to file a DBA?

A: It depends. If you are operating your business as a sole proprietor, you’ll need to file a DBA to operate your business with a name that’s different than your own personal legal name or last name. For example, if you want to start a gardening business with the name “Spring Flowers Landscaping” then you’ll need to file a DBA to be able to use that name.

But if you’re a sole proprietor and are going to use your own personal legal name or last name for your business, then a DBA isn’t necessary. In addition, you don’t need to file a DBA to use a business name that includes your surname and a combination of words that accurately describes your business. For example, if your name is Jane Doe and you have a landscaping business, you do not need a DBA to call your business “Doe’s Landscaping.”

Q: If my business is structured as an LLC or Corporation, do I need a DBA?

A: If you filed to become a corporation or LLC, then you’ve already registered your business name with the state and don’t need a DBA to use the official name on the filing paperwork. However, you do need to file a DBA to use any variations from the official name on your LLC/incorporation paperwork.

Q: When do I need to file my DBA?

A: You shouldn’t conduct any business under a fictitious business name until filing a DBA for that name. Most banks typically won’t let you open a business bank account (and accept checks to your fictitious business name) until you have filed for a DBA.

Q: Is there a difference “fictitious business name” and Doing Business As (DBA)?

A: No. Fictitious business name, DBA, and assumed business name all mean the same thing.

Q: If I file for a DBA, does this prevent others from using my business name?

A: No. In most states, a DBA doesn’t guarantee exclusive rights to a name. When you file for an LLC or corporation, this can give you exclusive rights in your own state. You can also file for a trademark to guarantee exclusive rights to the name within your line of business in all 50 states.

Do you need help filing a DBA or have a question about another aspect of starting a business? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

                               

CorpNet FAQs – Business Licenses

 

As an online legal document filing service that helps entrepreneurs with an array of startup needs, we get asked a ton of questions from our clients about various topics. We decided to start sourcing these questions and create a new blog post series for our readers, as some of you may be wondering the same thing but haven’t found the answer elsewhere.

Today we are launching our new FAQ series starting on the topic of business licenses. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions on the popular topic followed by answers from our CEO Nellie Akalp. Still have Questions? Feel free to post in the comments below and Nellie will be happy to provide additional insight!

Business Licenses

Q: What’s the difference between a business license and registering a business? If I already registered my LLC or corporation, do I still need a business license? 

A: Registering your business and getting your business license are two different things – and you most likely will need to do both. Registering a new business with the state (either by forming an LLC, corporation, or filing a DBA) provides a legal foundation for your business. Then, the business license(s) gives you the right to operate your business…similar to how a driver’s license lets you drive a car.

Q: How do I know what kind of business licenses I need? 

A: The specific license and permit requirements vary based on your type of business and your location. As expected, a home contractor or restaurant will have more permit requirements than a web designer. Find your business type on our Business Licenses page to check the specific requirements for your business. If you don’t see your specific business listed, give us a call at 1.888.449.2638 and we’ll help you out.

Q: What are the penalties if I don’t have the right licenses for my business? 

A: You can face fines, and even have your business shut down if you are caught operating without the right licenses/permit paperwork in place.

Q: How much does it cost to get a business license or permit? 

A: Exact costs depend on the license type and your location. Find your business type on our Business Licenses page to view the pricing for your particular business license and location.

Q: What if my business is involved in more than one type of activity or has multiple locations?

A:  Each business location and each business type is subject to licensing requirements, so you most likely will need to get the proper permits/licenses for each location and business activity.

Q: How long does a business license last? 

A: Typically speaking, a business license will last one year (although some locales give you the opportunity to apply for a three-year license). If you sign up for our free B.I.Z. service, we’ll automatically notify you when any licenses are coming up for renewal.

Q. If I change my legal structure, can I keep my old business license? 

A. No. Any change of legal entity (e.g. if you change from a sole proprietorship to an LLC or corporation) requires a new business license. If you change your legal structure, you will need to apply for a new business license for the new entity.

Q. Can I transfer my business license to a new owner? 

A. Typically speaking, you cannot transfer a business license from one owner to another. The new owner of the business will need to apply for their own business and specialty licenses.

Do you need help setting up a business license or have a question about another aspect of starting a business? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock