Deciding on the legal structure of the business is the first step for new entrepreneurs. Many choose an LLC for its simplicity in setup, flexible managerial structure, and extended personal asset protection.
An LLC can have one owner (called a “member”) or multiple owners (“multiple members”), making it a scalable business entity too.
Indiana is popular for LLC registration due to low initial company registration costs and biannual (rather than annual) reporting and fee payments.
The registration process is relatively simple and can be completed by following a few steps outlined in this guide.
Steps to Get an LLC in Indiana
- Step 1: Secure a name for your LLC
- Step 2: Designate a registered agent
- Step 3: File for articles of organization with Indiana Secretary of State & Obtain a Certificate of Existence
- Step 4: Create an LLC Operating Agreement
- Step 5: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS
- Costs to set up an LLC in Indiana
- Last Steps
Step 1: Secure a name for your LLC
Selecting a name for your new business is where you should start. In addition to marketing concerns, you’ll also have to ensure that the name meets Indiana’s rules and requirements.
Every Indiana LLC name must:
- Be unique and different from existing businesses
- Include Limited Liability Company or an abbreviation such as LLC
- Avoid using terms related to regulated fields like law, medicine, or non-profit status, unless authorized
Head over to the Indiana Public Business Search Database to see what’s already taken. Run multiple searches to ensure that you select a unique name that won’t cause confusion with existing businesses.
Reserving a name secures it while you prepare the rest of your formation documents. It’s not required.
The cost to reserve a corporate name in Indiana is $20. It is valid for 120 days. If needed, you can pay another $20 to extend it for another 120 days.
Many business owners like to use a doing-business-as (DBA) name. This can also be called a trade name or a fictitious name. Indiana calls it an assumed name.
A DBA or assumed name provides a lot of flexibility by letting you operate under a name different from the LLC’s legal name. For example, an LLC named “Indiana Farm Supply LLC” might operate under an assumed name like “Hoosier Hog Hub.”
To use an assumed name, you need to file it with the State of Indiana.
Step 2: Designate a registered agent
All Indiana LLCs must have a registered agent listed in the company’s application. A registered agent is the main point of contact for state notices, letters, and other legal documents. It’s an important role.
All Indiana registered agents must be:
- Physically located in Indiana with a street address (not a P.O. Box)
- At least 18 years old
You can serve as your own registered agent. Or you can appoint a trusted party like an employee, accountant, or friend to perform the role for you.
Many savvy business owners choose to hire a registered agent service instead. They save time and set aside many problems that come from serving as your own registered agent, such as:
- Your address becomes part of the public record
- You’ll have to sort through junk mail without missing important notices
- You may be served with a lawsuit in front of customers
- You’ll need to be around during regular business hours
Step 3: File for articles of organization with Indiana Secretary of State & Obtain a Certificate of Existence
Filing your articles of organization with the Indiana Secretary of State is the key step. It’s what brings your business vision to life by creating the legal entity.
Indiana Articles of Organization require:
- LLC’s name and duration
- Registered agent contact information
- Management structure
- Signature of at least one manager, member, or organizer
Be prepared to pay a filing fee of $100 to submit the Articles of Organization. You can submit them online, in person, or via mail.
Processing time varies depending on the submission method:
- 1-2 days for online submissions
- 7-10 days for mail or in-person submissions
At present, Indiana doesn’t offer any expedited services.
Once your LLC has been approved, obtain a Certificate of Existence from the state of Indiana. This costs $26 and can be requested from the state’s online portal.
Keep a copy of this with your business records. It may be needed for various purposes later on, such as opening a bank account or accepting financing opportunities.
Step 4: Create an LLC operating agreement
An operating agreement outlines how the business will function. It is an internal agreement between owners and managers that lays out how to handle many situations.
Without an operating agreement, state law will step in. This may lead to unexpected and undesirable results.
Experienced entrepreneurs protect their interests with well-drafted operating agreements. They include things like:
- Rights and duties of LLC members and managers
- Ownership percentages and contribution amounts
- Allocation of profits and losses
- How to add or remove a member
- Ways to resolve certain disputes
- Method for dissolving the LLC
Business owners are strongly encouraged to draft an operating agreement for their LLC. Indiana doesn’t require one and you don’t file it with the SOS. But it’s still good to have one. They are critical for all multi-member LLCs.
Many online providers sell customizable operating agreement templates. You can also hire an attorney to draft one for you but expect to pay $1,000 or more.
Step 5: Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS
After filing your Articles of Organization and drafting your operating agreement, taxes are the next step to tackle. Business owners should submit a request to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
An EIN is like a Social Security number for a business. The IRS uses them to track tax information.
The IRS requires an EIN if your LLC:
- Has more than one member
- Hires any employees
- Falls under a handful of other situations
If you use the sole proprietorship tax classification, you may be able to use your personal Social Security number instead. But it’s best practice to get an EIN anyway. Banks and local tax authorities might require one.
Costs to set up an LLC in Indiana
The minimum cost to start an LLC in Indiana is $100, the fee for filing the Articles of Organization.
Optional charges include:
- $20 to reserve a business name
- $30 to apply for a fictitious name
- $60-$120 to hire a registered agent service
- $1,000 or more to get an operating agreement from an attorney
Including these optional charges, forming an LLC in Indiana can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,270 and up. Without hiring an attorney for the operating agreement, most people can start an Indiana LLC for $200 or less.
Once you get here, you’ve started your Indiana LLC and are nearly ready to greet your first customers. Before you do, take care of these last few items.
Business bank account
It is a very good idea to get a business bank account. They are instrumental in recordkeeping and accounting. But there’s another reason why you need one.
If you combine your personal and business finances, you may lose the LLC’s legal protections. During a lawsuit, your personal assets may be at risk.
Instead, use a business bank account to show that your LLC is a separate entity.
Many banks offer business accounts for free or up to $25 per month, depending on your deposit amount and the services included. You’ll likely need a photo ID, the articles of organization, and your EIN.
Local taxes, licenses, and permits
Part of business ownership is navigating the state and local needs. Start with the state authorities. The INBiz online portal helps streamline the process.
Before you start operating, make sure your business gets what it needs.
Leveraging the knowledge of local leaders can help you blast through challenges.
Exploring your insurance options is another wise step. You may need a workers’ compensation policy. And general liability coverage can help prevent all sorts of headaches down the road.
Keep the momentum going by searching the Indiana database to see if your LLC name idea is available. Then continue through each step of this guide.
Before you know it, you’ll be able to feel the excitement of being your own boss.
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