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How to set up a C Corp

Updated: Jun 19, 2023


Setting up a C Corp is a vital step for entrepreneurs looking to establish their business as a separate legal entity, offering advantages such as limited liability protection and the potential for lower tax rates. This article will guide you through the process of establishing a C Corp, from understanding what a C Corp is to the steps required for state and federal registration, along with the formalities and paperwork involved.

What is a C Corp

A C Corporation, or C Corp, is a type of business entity in the United States that is taxed separately from its owners. This structure offers limited liability protection for shareholders, which means that their personal assets are not at risk in the event of a lawsuit or the company's financial struggles. C Corps are the default corporation type under U.S. federal tax law and are an ideal option for businesses seeking to attract investors and grow their operations.

State Registration

To set up a C Corp, you must first register your corporation in the state where it will primarily operate. Every state is different so consult your CPA or attorney for instructions on your specific state. Here are some general steps involved in all state registrations:

1. Choose a unique name: Your company's name must be distinct from any existing businesses in the state. It is wise to conduct a name search through your state's business registry to ensure your desired name is available. Most states also require the inclusion of a corporate designator such as "Inc.," "Corp.," or "Ltd." in the company name.

2. Appoint a registered agent: A registered agent is a person or entity responsible for receiving legal documents on behalf of your corporation. They must have a physical address within the state of registration and be available during regular business hours.

3. Draft and file Articles of Incorporation: The Articles of Incorporation are the legal documents that formally establish your C Corp. The information required in the Articles varies by state, but generally includes the corporation's name, registered agent's information, number of authorized shares, and the names of the incorporators.

4. Pay filing fees: The cost of registering a C Corp varies by state, typically ranging from $100 to $800. Be sure to check with your state's business registration office for the exact fee amount.

Federal Registration

After successfully registering your C Corp with the state, the next step is to obtain a federal tax identification number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The EIN is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is necessary for tax reporting and other legal requirements. You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website, by phone, fax, or mail. The process is free and typically takes a few minutes when done online.

Formalities and Paperwork

Once your C Corp is registered, you will need to comply with certain ongoing formalities and paperwork requirements, including:

1. Create Corporate Bylaws: Corporate bylaws are internal rules that govern the operation of your C Corp. They typically cover topics such as shareholder rights, director responsibilities, meeting procedures, and the process for amending bylaws. Although not all states require bylaws, it is a good practice to create them to ensure smooth functioning.

2. Issue Stock Certificates: Issue stock certificates to shareholders to represent their ownership interests in the corporation. Maintain accurate stock records and comply with state and federal securities laws.

3. Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses: Depending on the nature of your business and the location of your operations, you may require additional permits and licenses. Consult your local government office to determine the specific requirements.

4. Maintain Records: C Corps must maintain accurate financial records, file annual reports with the state, and fulfill federal tax reporting requirements. Additionally, it is essential to hold annual shareholder and director meetings, maintain meeting minutes, and document any significant corporate decisions.

5. Comply with Tax Requirements: As a C Corp, your business will be subject to federal and state corporate income taxes. Keep in mind that C Corps are subject to double taxation, meaning the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and shareholders pay taxes on dividends they receive. Consult with a tax professional to ensure you meet all tax obligations and take advantage of any deductions or credits available to your business.

Setting up a C Corp can be a strategic decision for business owners seeking to protect their personal assets, attract investors, and potentially benefit from lower tax rates. By following the steps outlined in this article – from state registration to federal registration, along with complying with ongoing formalities and paperwork – you will be well on your way to establishing a successful C Corp. As you navigate the process, consult with your legal and financial professionals to ensure your corporation remains compliant and takes full advantage of the benefits associated with a C Corp structure.

If you're unsure about any aspect of setting up a C Corp or would like personalized guidance, we are here to help. Take advantage of our free consultation offer to discuss your specific needs and gain expert insights tailored to your business goals. Don't miss this opportunity to lay a strong foundation for your corporation's success. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary consultation and take the first step towards creating a thriving C Corp.


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