When considering starting a business, everything should be looked into. You need to consider location, legal status, the state in question, government policies, taxes, etc. When you start a business, you are responsible for choosing your business structure, and one structure you can select is a limited liability company, or LLC.
One of the major things to consider while trying to set up your business as a Limited Liability company is which state would be the best option for you. This consideration is very pertinent because the state you choose can make or mar your business.
Unlike other business structures, you can form an LLC in any state, regardless of your physical business presence there. With so many states to choose from, it can be difficult to determine where to establish your LLC for the best results.
It is a fact that various states in the United States present various complexities when it comes to forming an LLC in them. Researchers and entrepreneurs have consistently tried to compare the various modalities for which each state offers their LLC to decide which is most favourable to business formation in the United States.
When it comes to deciding where to form your Limited Liability Company (LLC), like I’ve said before, you need to consider taxes, regulatory burden, workforce availability, and more. Like sole proprietorships or partnerships, an LLC is an unincorporated entity––income from the business flows through to the owners and investors as personal income.
However, like a corporation, an LLC provides limited liability––owner(s) liability is limited to the amount of their investment in the company. In this article we will explore the best states to form an LLC from an overall business climate perspective. Various indices will be used to inform the choices of which states we would see as the best and worst to form a business.
Best States to Form an LLC in 2021
When it comes to considering the best states to form your LLC, you need to take into consideration things like, lifestyle factors such as health care, education, infrastructure, crime rates, weather, etc.
As a popular business structure, LLCs are flexible and combine elements of sole proprietorships or partnerships and corporations. This is why they are so popular. The owners of LLCs are considered members. LLCs can either be:
Single-member or Multi-member, and the owners of an LLC have financial and legal protection similar to corporations but without the double taxation. Another amazing side to the LLC is that owners are not responsible for business debts. If the business owes money and can’t pay, only their business assets are at risk.
LLCs use pass-through-taxation and this basically means that the business itself does not pay taxes. Instead, owners must report business income and pay taxes on their personal tax returns. However, LLCs can elect to be treated and taxed as corporations, it is all in the choice of their management.
Like it has been said, you can actually form an LLC in any state, regardless of where you’re based. Your LLC would then be known as a foreign LLC. A foreign LLC is basically an LLC that is formed in one state but wants to carry out business in another state.
Each state has different laws for LLCs. Some states are more strict, while others are more lenient. Other states might also offer financial advantages and other perks for LLC formation.
With the various indices that will be put in place, let us try to find out which states are coming tops when it comes to the best states to start an LLC in the United States.
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When you run a general research, you would mostly find out that Delaware is the most popular choice for forming an LLC, that is apart from your home state. Research has found this state out to be business friendly which is what endears it to the hearts of entrepreneurs.
In fact, you will find that more than 50% of all U.S. publicly-traded companies and roughly 63% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. In addtion to being business friendly, Delaware also has a simplified filing process to help you get your LLC quickly up and running.
Two other major perks of creating an LLC in Delaware are the low fees and taxes. Delaware does not tax out-of-state income for foreign LLCs. To entice businesses, Delaware also has low filing fees and franchise taxes.
Another important factor is that Delaware has a separate court, called the Chancery Court, that only hears business cases. Because of this, cases involving businesses are resolved more quickly than they would be in other states where they’re thrown on the docket with all other types of cases. The judges are experienced in business matters as well, whereas judges in other states may have little or no background in this area of law before taking the bench.
Some of the advantages you will note with starting a business in Delaware include that the state is; Business-friendly, has a streamlined filing process, has low filing fees, low franchise taxes, no corporate income taxes for foreign LLCs taxed as corporations, etc. Kindly visit Delaware’s website if you need more information on how to create an LLC in the state.
When it comes to the best states to create an LLC in the United States, Nevada is another state that gets good attention, and for good reasons. For one, the state of Nevada does not collect tax on business income, capital gains, or inheritances, which makes it appealing to business owners.
The state does not collect franchise tax either, although there are fees for business licenses and annual filing fees. Yet another endearing fact about forming an LLC in Nevada is that you aren’t required to create an operating agreement or hold annual meetings for your company, which can make running your business simpler.
Additionally, Nevada does not have an information-sharing agreement with the Internal Revenue Service. So, if you’re seeking privacy or anonymity, Nevada may be the state for you, since it allows anonymity in public filings. The processing times for LLC filings in Nevada also are relatively fast. Additionally, the state does not participate in information-sharing with the IRS.
Some of the advantages you will note with starting a business in Nevada include that the state has; No corporate or personal income taxes, No franchise taxes, Anonymity in public filings, No information-sharing agreements with the IRS, No requirements for operating agreement or annual meetings, etc. Is your appetite whetted on forming an LLC in Nevada? Then visit the state’s website.
Another popular state when it comes to starting an LLC in the United States is Wyoming, and this state strives to be as business-friendly as possible. Like Nevada, there are no corporate income, personal income, or franchise taxes in Wyoming.
When you form an LLC in Wyoming, there is no business income tax or franchise tax to pay. Wyoming also offers lifetime proxy, which means you can appoint someone else to represent your stock or shares and vote on your behalf. This allows the legal owner of the shares or stock to remain completely anonymous. This goes to show that this state offers business anonymity to some extents.
In addition to no corporate or individual income taxes, Wyoming also has a low sales tax rate. The advantages of incorporating your business Wyoming include that the state has; Minimal reporting obligations, No corporate or personal income taxes, No franchise taxes, Lifetime proxy option, Low sales tax rate. Ready to start an LLC in Wyoming? Visit Wyoming’s website for more details.
Alaska is also coming up on the heels of the others when it comes to the best states to form an LLC in the United States. As a business owner, you might have never thought about establishing your LLC in Alaska, but, the state has many perks when it comes to forming an LLC in it.
Alaska is a state that has no state income tax or sales tax. However, keep in mind that cities or localities in Alaska are allowed to collect their own rate for city or local sales tax. Some of the advantages you need to note when it comes to forming an LLC in Alaska include that the state has; No state income tax, No state sales tax, Low tax rates in general, etc.
If you are interested in starting your LLC in Alaska, then you need to visit Alaska’s website for additional information.
5. South Dakota
While some entrepreneurs may disagree with me, but South Dakota is a good state to form your LLC. South Dakota also has some advantages when it comes to tax payment for businesses. Like Alaska, South Dakota does not have state income tax. Along with no state income tax, South Dakota also has a 0% corporate tax rate, making it a great place to start an LLC that is taxed as a corporation.
The few advantages to forming an LLC in the state of South Dakota include; No state income tax and No corporate tax rate (for LLCs treated as a corporation) If you want to start your LLC in South Dakota, then you need to go to their website for more details.
Worst States to Start an LLC in 2021
SO we have shown you some of the best states to start your LLC in the United States, it will be similarly wise to show you the other side of the coin. So take a look at the worst states you can ever think of starting your LLC in the United States.
One state that has been a torn in the flesh of entrepreneurs is Louisiana, and the major reason for this is their dreaded sales taxes. But in a bid to make things easier for businesses, the state has made some modest moves upward in corporate and unemployment taxes. But that notwithstanding, the state of Louisiana it remains at number 41 for the third straight year, unable to escape the last 10.
Iowa is also another state that is not popular with businesses that want to form an LLC. This is majorly because of the astronomically high taxes on corporate income, individual income and property. But the sales tax ranking is steadily improving, from 21st (2018) to 19th (2019) to 15th (2020).
Currently, Iowa ranks 48th in corporate tax rate, 42nd in individual income tax, 15th in sales tax, 35th in property tax, and 35th in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
The relatively lower corporate tax rate is clearly where the Empire State is trying to be attractive for business, but even that is not enough to endear it to business owners in the United States. For a state that had a comfortable position in the top 10, it is really doing poorly of recent. New York’s unemployment insurance ranking is also slipping.
Currently, New York ranks 13th in corporate tax rate, 48th in individual income tax, 43rd in sales tax, 46th in property tax, and 38th in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
New Jersey is another state you may want to avoid if you are contemplating forming an LLC in the United States. But, if you are looking for a positive here, it is that New Jersey has made substantial improvement in its unemployment tax ranking. But that comes in conjunction with already poor rankings for corporate tax and its income taxes keep getting worse.
Currently, New Jersey ranks 49th in corporate tax rate, 50th in individual income tax, 42nd in sales tax, 47th in property tax, and 30th in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
Vermont has nudged up 3 spots overall, from 47th the last 2 years to 44th this year. Even though it lost ground on corporate taxes, it was countered with an improvement in its income tax ranking. Currently, Vermont ranks 45th in corporate tax rate, 39th in individual income tax, 16th in sales tax, 49th in property tax, and 16th in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
Very little has changed in the Minnesota tax climate over the last 3 years and that means the overall ranking continues to lag. Businesses can expect high corporate and personal taxes to go with the cold weather, that is if things don’t get progressively worse.
Currently, Minnesota ranks 44th in corporate tax rate, 46th in individual income tax, 28th in sales tax, 26th in property tax, and 34th in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
Arkansas has been doing okay when it comes to starting an LLC in the state, but it currently got added to the bottom 10. It even barely escaped the last 2 years with national rankings of 38th and 39th. A further weakening of its position on income taxes, property taxes and unemployment taxes is the reason why this state ranked so low this year.
Currently, Arkansas ranks 34th in corporate tax rate, 40th in individual income tax, 46th in sales tax, 29th in property tax, and 23rd in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
Much like Iowa, Maryland’s overall position in the national rankings is stable. Unlike Iowa, the Terrapin State is moving in the wrong direction beneath the surface, losing significant ground on corporate and property taxes. These are the only things that are working against the state’s LLC ranking.
Currently, Maryland ranks 32nd in corporate tax rate, 45th in individual income tax, 19th in sales tax, 42nd in property tax, and 33rd in the unemployment insurance tax rank.
Best States to Form an LLC by Region
According to the United States Tax Foundation’s analysis, taxes can impact job creation and retention, business location, and a company’s profitability. For this reason, if taxes take a larger chunk of the profits your business makes, the only way you can break even is to pass the cost along to your consumers, employees, shareholders or some combination of these.
This is why a state with lower taxes appeals more to businesses, at least so that they can have a level playing ground in their industries. While the physical location of a business may have lost some of its influence in today’s business world, but those launching a small business or startup in the U.S. have definite advantages over those launching anywhere else.
For that reason, we are going to attempt to sort out the best states to start a business in each region of the United States. This would be done using the recommendations of the Small Business Administration and Tax Foundation. So, even if you do not live in the best states to start a business, but you live in any of these regions, just go ahead and start up your business.
a. New Hampshire
New Hampshire is extremely business-friendly and welcoming for entrepreneurs with its abundance of government resources and lack of state sales tax (an endearing attribute). New Hampshire residents also make more money per capita. That suggests businesses might have an easier time selling their products and services.
While it didn’t make the list of top 10 states with the best taxes for small businesses, it does have a large population of college-educated residents, no corporate income tax, and an ever-growing number of tech, energy and medical enterprises filing for business licenses each year. So, the state does have a number of things going in is favour.
c. North Carolina
North Carolina is home to the “The Triangle,” a well-known tech hub, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best states to start a business. With the combined low corporate tax rates, low property taxes and low cost of living, North Carolina has a lot to offer entrepreneurs seeking a place to start their business.
Small business owners will find that Utah has low corporate taxes and the nation’s highest percentage of approved small business loans. Similarly to North Carolina, Utah has a large college-educated workforce, so you won’t lack for employable workforce.
With the fourth-highest rate of entrepreneurs in the country, Montana seems to know the value that businesses, both large and small, bring to the state. The workforce’s high percentage of college graduates and lack of a sales tax add to the state’s attractive qualities for business founders. So, do not neglect this state when you want to start a business.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Organizational Structure Of An LLC?
An LLC is a type of business entity that is organized according to state law. It consists of “members,” who are the owners of the business, and “managers,” who conduct the day-to-day business operations. Members are similar to shareholders in a corporation, and managers are similar to corporate officers.
When Should A Business Become An LLC?
You should make your business an LLC;
- When you have gotten your business off the ground and have found your first paying customer.
- When you want to avoid putting your personal assets at risk.
- When you have multiple owners and/or partners in the business.
How Do You Make Your Business An LLC?
- Step 1: Choose a State in Which to Form Your LLC
- Step 2: Choose a Name for Your LLC
- Step 3: Choose a Registered Agent
- Step 4: Prepare an LLC Operating Agreement
- Step 5: File Your LLC with Your State
- Step 6: Obtain an EIN
- Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account
- Step 8: Register to Do Business in Other States (If Necessary)
What Are The Benefits Of Becoming An LLC?
Probably the most obvious benefit to forming an LLC is protecting your personal assets by limiting the liability to the resources of the business itself. In most cases, the LLC will protect your personal assets from claims against the business, including lawsuits.
What Should You Include In An LLC Operating Agreement?
An LLC operating agreement is a key document used by LLCs because it outlines the business’ financial and functional decisions including rules, regulations and provisions. The purpose of the document is to govern the internal operations of the business in a way that suits the specific needs of the business owners.
Basically, an LLC operating agreement should include;
- Percent of Ownership/How You’ll Distribute Profits
- Your LLC’s Management Structure/Members’ Roles And Responsibilities
- How You’ll Make Decisions
- What Happens If A Member Wants Out
What Is The Processing Time To Form Your LLC?
Basically, the time to process your corporation or LLC formation varies by state with routine processing taking 4 – 6 weeks or even more in the slowest states. Expedited Processing will reduce that time to about 10 business days or less with the exception of just a few states.
How Do You File An Amendment For An LLC?
- Check your state law
- Refer to your forming documents
- Identify what you need to change and what you need to change it
- Find out whether you need to report your changes
- Submit within the required timeframe
- Provide the appropriate information and documentation
- Submit your paperwork
What Is The Difference Between A DBA And An LLC?
The biggest difference between a DBA and an LLC is liability protection. Under a DBA, there is no distinction between the business owner and the business. On the other hand, an LLC provides limited liability protection. The business owners’ personal property remains completely separate from the business.
Should You Use An LLC Formation Service?
It depends on what you want and if you have the money.
What Types Of Businesses Should Choose An LLC?
Almost all types of businesses can be limited liability companies. Typically, the only exception is a professional partnership, such as a law firm or doctor’s office.
Is An LLC Best For Small Businesses?
An LLC is often an appropriate choice for small businesses because it offers reasonable liability protection with a minimal amount of paperwork and regulatory burden. Consider the pros and cons of each structure — and if you aren’t sure, it’s best to start with a simpler sole proprietorship or partnership structure.
Why Form An LLC Instead Of A Sole Proprietorship?
One of the key benefits of an LLC versus the sole proprietorship is that a member’s liability is limited to the amount of their investment in the LLC. Therefore, a member is not personally liable for the debts of the LLC. A sole proprietor would be liable for the debts incurred by the business.
What Are The Maintenance Requirements Of An LLC?
- Annual Renewal
- Make available Company Records
- Regular Meetings
What’s The Difference Between An LLC And An LLP?
The major difference between an LLC and an LLP is their Partnership Agreement. Another difference between the two entities is the process for determining the management structure. An LLC may have only one member, while an LLP must have at least two partners. An LLC is managed according to its operating agreement which is created by the members.
What Is An LLC And Why Do You Need One?
An LLC stands for “limited liability company.” An LLC is one type of legal entity that can be formed to own and operate a business. LLCs are very popular because they provide the same limited liability as a corporation, but are easier and cheaper to form and run.
The reason why you would need an LLC is that, if you have business partners or employees, an LLC protects you from personal liability for your co-owners’ or employees’ actions. An LLC gives you a structure for operating your business, including making decisions, dividing profits and losses, and dealing with new or departing owners.
How Much Does It Cost To Form An LLC?
The main cost of forming a limited liability company (LLC) is the state filing fee. This fee ranges between $40 and $500, depending on your state.
What LLC Forms Are Required To Start A Limited Liability Company?
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form SS-4
- Name reservation application
- Articles of organization
- Operating agreement
- Initial and annual reports
- Tax registrations
- Business licenses
What Can An LLCs Write Off?
- Rental expense
- Charitable giving
- Tangible property
- Professional expenses
- Meals and entertainment
- Independent contractors
- Cost of goods sold
- Car expenses and mileage
- Office expenses, including rent, utilities, etc.
- Office supplies, including computers, software, etc.
- Health insurance premiums
- Business phone bills
- Continuing education courses
- Parking for business-related trips
Do You Need A Lawyer To Form An LLC?
You do not need an attorney to form an LLC. Most states allow LLC formation by registering the business entity on your secretary of state’s website and with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Once you register, you can buy or rent a building and have company bank accounts.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of An LLC?
Advantages of a Limited Liability Company. Limited Liability. Tax Advantage. Flexibility of Income Distribution. Simplicity. Member Controlled.
Disadvantages of a Limited Liability Company. Difficult to Raise Capital. Confusion Across States. No Perpetual Existence.
Does An LLC Need Licenses And Permits?
In most states, forming an LLC doesn’t require a business license, but you’ll need to follow your state’s procedures. An LLC requires registering with the state and filing the appropriate forms. But even though you don’t need a business license to form an LLC, you probably need one to operate the LLC as a business.
Can You Switch From An LLC To A Corporation?
An LLC can switch to a corporation, but conversion might mean more paperwork and taxes. If the owners of your LLC agree, you can convert your company to a corporation. Some states have a streamlined process that allows you to easily transition your LLC to a corporation.
Should Your LLC Have A Holding Company?
An LLC most certainly can be a holding company. In fact, in most cases the limited liability company is the most desirable business entity. This is due to their flexibility, pass through tax status and strong protections from personal creditors.
What Is The Average Cost To Set Up An LLC?
The average cost to set up an LLC ranges between $40 and $500, depending on your state.
Should I Use An LLC Formation Service Or Do It Myself?
You can do it yourself if you have the time but if you make use of professionals, it could save you lots of time and could potentially save you money.
What is the cheapest way to get an LLC?
The least expensive way to form your LLC is filing the forms yourself, although it will depend on the filing fees in your state. Incorporation statements for LLCs are typically the Articles of Organization.
Does an LLC provide Asset Protection?
Limited Liability Companies are outstanding asset protection vehicles. They can protect the personal assets of the company members (owners) if someone sues the business. Moreover, the LLC can protect the assets of the business when someone sues a member.
What Are The Benefits Of An LLC Vs Sole Proprietorship?
One of the key benefits of an LLC versus the sole proprietorship is that a member’s liability is limited to the amount of their investment in the LLC. Therefore, a member is not personally liable for the debts of the LLC. A sole proprietor would be liable for the debts incurred by the business.
What Is The Downside To An LLC?
The downside to an LLC is that profits are subject to social security and Medicare taxes. In some circumstances, owners of an LLC may end up paying more taxes than owners of a corporation. Salaries and profits of an LLC are subject to self-employment taxes, currently equal to a combined 15.3 percent.
Is an LLC better for Taxes?
LLCs give business owners significantly greater federal income tax flexibility than a sole proprietorship, partnership and other popular forms of business organization. Make sure you have a financial plan in place for your small business.
How Long Does Legalzoom Take To Deliver An LLC?
Depending on how fast the state processes business filings, it can generally take between a week to ten business days. In some states, once your intake information is received, the state agency often issues approval for the limited liability company within only three business days.
What Kind Of Insurance Does An LLC Need?
Professional liability insurance is usually necessary for LLCs or professional limited liability companies (PLLCs), whose members are either lawyers, doctors, or other professionals required to have a license to work.
How Much Does A CPA Charge To Set Up An LLC?
A certified public accountant (CPA) cannot provide legal advice, but can guide you through the paperwork and decision-making process of setting up an LLC for an average cost of $400-$900 or more, depending on location and complexity. That’s in addition to state fees and expenses.
Is Legalzoom Worth It For LLC?
LegalZoom may be a decent option to form an LLC if you: Want to work with an established brand to start your LLC. Are willing to pay extra for better premium services and features, such as an EIN and registered agent services.
How Much Does An LLC Lawyer Cost?
An LLC lawyer fees range from $297 to $797.
Do You Have To Pay Yourself A Salary In An LLC?
As the owner of a single-member LLC, you don’t get paid a salary or wages. Instead, you pay yourself by taking money out of the LLC’s profits as needed. That’s called an owner’s draw. You can simply write yourself a check or transfer the money from your LLC’s bank account to your personal bank account.
Can Your LLC Buy A Car?
Yes, in the United States you can buy a car under a limited liability company (LLC). The company must be properly registered as an LLC and you will also need an Employer Identification Number (this can be obtained for free from the IRS).
Why Elect S Corp Tax Status For Your LLC?
An S corporation isn’t a business entity like an LLC; it’s an elected tax status. LLC owners must pay self-employment taxes for all income. S-corp owners may pay less on this tax, provided they pay themselves a “reasonable salary.”
Do you need an Accountant for an LLC?
Hiring a tax professional will not only help you keep your LLC in compliance with the state, but it will also give you an advisor to go to for other business questions. Whether your business turns a profit or loses money, you will still need to file tax documents every year.
What Taxes Do LLC Pay?
All of the profits and losses of the LLC “pass through” the business to the LLC owners (called members), who report this information on their personal tax returns. The LLC itself does not pay federal income taxes, although some states impose an annual tax on LLCs.
Can You Set Up An LLC In Canada?
The LLC form of business ownership does not exist in Canada. While it’s common for owners to set up LLCs in the United States and other countries (including the U.K., Switzerland, Chile, Colombia, Italy, Japan, and India), this is not an option for Canadian business owners.
What Is The Difference Between A Trademark, Copyright And Patent?
A patent protects an invention for 20 years, but it cannot be renewed. The code of the software will be protected by a copyright, while the functional expression of the idea will be protected by a patent. The name of the company or the software will come under a trademark.
Can You Run An LLC Out Of Your Home?
Yes, you can, and running your LLC out of your home can be a good alternative for the business start-up. Your business plan may call for you to eventually move your business off-site to regular business premises, but in the beginning, a home-based business may be the most viable and cost-effective option.
What States Require Newspaper Publication?
There are only 3 states that require LLCs to publish a notice in the newspaper: Arizona, Nebraska and New York.
Should I Incorporate In Delaware Or Illinois?
It depends on what you want but it is important to point out that Delaware’s liability laws may offer greater protections, compared to Illinois, for officers and directors. We also recommend Delaware incorporation to companies looking for outside investors or mezzanine financing, as well as for companies that are anticipating an IPO.
What Does It Mean To Pierce The Corporate Veil?
“Piercing the corporate veil” refers to a situation in which courts put aside limited liability and hold a corporation’s shareholders or directors personally liable for the corporation’s actions or debts. Veil piercing is most common in close corporations.
Should You Use A National Or Local Bank?
The choice is yours to make, but it is important to point out that Local banks must compete for customers and offer higher rates. While national banks tend to treat customers like just another account number, local banks offer more direct contact with top executives and personal attention and service.
Do You Have To Pay For LLC Every Year?
Yes, and this is due to the fact that the LLC annual fee is an ongoing fee paid to the state to keep your LLC in compliance and in good standing. It’s usually paid every 1 or 2 years, depending on the state. This fee is required, regardless of your LLC’s income or activity.
What If Your LLC Made No Money?
Please note that even though an inactive LLC has no income or expenses for a year, it might still be required to file a federal income tax return. LLC tax filing requirements depend on the way the LLC is taxed. An LLC may be disregarded as an entity for tax purposes, or it may be taxed as a partnership or a corporation.
What Are The Disadvantages Of An S Corp?
- Formation and ongoing expenses
- Tax qualification obligations
- Calendar year
- Stock ownership restrictions
- Closer IRS scrutiny
- Less flexibility in allocating income and loss
- Taxable fringe benefits.
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