Coming up with a business idea and deciding to pursue it is exciting, but dealing with the legalities of forming a business can seem intimidating. Still, you know that creating an LLC (limited liability company) has big advantages.
Forming an LLC ensures that your business has the flexibility and tax advantages you need. Plus, it helps protect your personal assets in the event of any legal issues. The good news is that starting an LLC in Georgia is actually relatively easy and affordable. Here’s how you can get it done in just 6 simple steps.
6 Steps to Start an LLC in Georgia
To form an LLC in Georgia, you’ll need to interact with the Georgia Secretary of State. This office defines the rules and guidelines for forming an LLC, which are fairly simple.
1. Choose and Reserve Your Business Name
The first thing you’ll need to do to form an LLC is decide on a name for your company. The Georgia Secretary of State requires that you make your LLC name distinguishable from any other businesses registered in the state. You must also follow the name must with one of the following:
- Ltd. Co.
- Ltd Co
Your LLC name cannot include terms like “limited partnership,” as this would imply that your company is a different type of entity. You’ll also need special permission if you want to include the following words in the name: university, college, trust, bank, surety, or insurance.
After you decide on a name, you can check that it's available on Georgia’s business search website. Then, you can reserve your business name by submitting a name reservation request online or via the mail. It costs $25 to reserve the name, but this process ensures you have 30 days with that name locked in while you complete the rest of the steps to form an LLC.
2. Pick a Registered Agent
Georgia requires that you specify a registered agent for your LLC. A registered agent can be a person, corporation, or LLC that will accept mail and service process on the behalf of your company. Your registered agent must maintain a physical address in Georgia and accept mail during business hours.
You may choose to represent yourself as your registered agent or ask an employee or trusted acquaintance. You also have the option to hire a registered agent service or business attorney to fill the role.
3. Submit LLC Forms
To form your LLC in Georgia, you’ll need to submit Articles of Organization, which include basic formation details and contact information for your business. This is the form that will authorize your business to operate in Georgia. In this state, it’s called Form CD 030 and it’s a simple, single-page form.
There is a $100 fee to file the form, which you can do online or by mail. If you choose to file via mail, there’s an additional $10 fee and a transmittal form that you’ll need to complete and include with the Articles of Organization. The transmittal form (also referred to as CD 231) is another simple, single-page document that requires basic information about your business.
When the Secretary of State receives your Articles of Organization, they’ll process the filing and mail you a certificate of organization. This process usually takes about a week, once the office receives your forms. However, your business is officially formed the day that the office gets your forms, not when you receive your certificate.
4. Get Business Permits
Aside from your LLC, you need additional documentation from the state of Georgia to operate legally. You’ll need a general business license from the city or county that you reside in. You can check with your city’s website or local office to get started.
You may need additional permits or licenses depending on what industry you operate in. You can visit your local county clerk to check for specific requirements.
5. Pay Taxes
After formation, the state holds your LLC responsible for paying taxes. While you do get to decide how the state taxes your LLC, there is a general default setup.
Under this setting, the state taxes the LLC like a sole proprietorship or partnership, which means that you report your business income and losses on your personal tax return. If there are multiple members in your LLC, you’ll each report income and losses according to your shares on your personal taxes.
You may also opt to pay taxes as a corporation. In this case, your LLC will pay annual state corporate tax and a net worth tax depending on your company’s assets. If your business has employees, your LLC will also need to pay payroll taxes.
6. Complete an Annual Registration Report
Georgia requires that LLCs file an annual registration statement. This allows you to change or confirm the accuracy of the information on file about your registered agent and business address. You’ll need to submit this by April 1st of each year. You can file it online or by mail.
There is a $50 filing fee for annual registration reports. If you need to change any of your business information throughout the year after you’ve already submitted this report, you can file an amended annual registration statement. There’s an additional $20 fee for this document.
The Next Steps After Forming an LLC in Georgia
Forming an LLC is a great first step to creating your business, but there are still several tasks you need to complete to become an operational business.
1. Get an EIN
The federal government requires that your business gets an EIN (employer identification number) if it has employees or multiple members. If you are a single-member LLC without employees, you may operate your LLC without an EIN and tax the LLC on your personal tax returns. However, there are several benefits of having an EIN to consider.
You can use the EIN to open bank accounts for your LLC, as well as set up employee payroll. You may also include the EIN on your taxes as a tax identification number, which helps to separate your personal assets from your business.
You can get an EIN online by going to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) website. For step-by-step guidance, check out our blog post on how to get an EIN.
2. Open Financial Accounts
An LLC can help protect your personal assets if anyone chooses to sue your business. It’s also important to have a business bank account apart from your personal account to reinforce that separation. Opening a business bank account is fairly easy and you can even do it online. You can read our guide on exactly how to open a business bank account.
It may also be helpful to get a business credit card at this point. This ensures that you don’t charge any business expenses on your personal credit card. You may also choose to get accounting software, as well, to help you stay organized and prepare for taxes.
3. Set Up a Payment System
One of the most important steps in setting up your business is choosing the right payment system. Pay.com provides everything you need to start getting paid right away – a full payment infrastructure, payment gateway, merchant gateway, and payment processing services. You won’t have to sign up for any separate services.
Setup is easy and you don’t need any technical experience. Using the Pay Dashboard, you can create a customized checkout page that looks and feels just like the rest of your website. Even if you don’t have a website, you can send payment requests directly to customers by using Pay Links.
With Pay.com, you can accept a wide variety of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets. You can add them to your checkout page or Pay Links with a few simple clicks.
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4. Write an Operating Agreement
Although you don’t need an operating agreement to have an LLC in Georgia, it can be a helpful tool. It’s a written document that describes the responsibilities and rights of each owner of the LLC, as well as how financial decision-making should occur.
If your LLC has multiple members, an operating agreement can help you avoid disagreements, as you’ve already laid out everything about the business in the agreement. Even if you are a sole owner, an operating agreement could be useful for documenting your tax preferences, meeting schedules, and voting rights.
The Bottom Line
Forming an LLC in Georgia is quite easy. Once you’ve reserved a business name and chosen a registered agent, creating the LLC comes down to filing a simple form. Still, once that’s done, there’s still plenty to do, from setting up your financial accounts to paying taxes.
One of the best things you can do to start your business right is to choose Pay.com as your payment service provider. After a quick onboarding process, you can easily set up a checkout page and add a variety of payment methods. You can also get paid via Pay Links or enter payment information manually.
No matter how you want to get paid, Pay.com can help. Click here to find out how you can get started.