Steps to Forming an LLC
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How to Form a Missouri LLC
Forming an LLC in Missouri will help protect your personal assets from lawsuits and judgments against your business. An LLC is a legal structure that separates your business and personal assets. By not having your business in a separate legal structure, you can be held personally liable for certain debts and lawsuits incurred by the company. Forming a Missouri Limited Liability Company does not require an attorney and you can save a lot of money if you do it yourself with the six simple steps below.
Before getting into the six steps, here are a few things to know about Missouri LLCs.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an LLC In Missouri?
The filing fee for a Missouri Limited Liability Company is between $50 and $105, payable to the Missouri Secretary of State – Corporations Division.
Missouri Annual Report and Annual Fees
Missouri does not require an annual report fee, saving a considerable amount over many states if owned for several years.
- Minimum Number – one or more
- Members/Managers are not required to be listed in the articles of organization
- Residence Requirements – no provision
- Age Requirements – directors must be a natural person at least 18 years of age
LLC Member Privacy in Missouri
Missouri is one of the most private states when it comes to public information about the members/owners of an LLC. There is no annual reporting requirement to the state, and members/owners are not required to disclose their names/addresses/phone numbers to the state in any publicly searchable filing. (Yes, you do have to reveal your ownership in your state and federal income tax filings, but those are not searchable without your consent or a court order).
In other words, the owners of a Missouri LLC are not publicly available information on the internet.
What is public are the names and address of the registered agent and the organizers of the LLC.
If you want to maintain maximum privacy for your ownership in a Missouri LLC, using an outside company (such as LegalZoom) as your organizer and registered agent, will prevent your ownership from being easily searchable at the Missouri Secretary of State’s website.
Articles of Organization Purpose Statement
The article listing the purpose or purposes should include at least one sentence which defines the specific purpose for which the company is organized (for example, what it will do to make a profit). You may also include, if desired, a purpose statement such as “and all other legal acts permitted limited liability companies.”
Missouri Business License and Permits
In addition to forming your LLC, you will need to check for Missouri business licenses and permits, in addition to sales tax registration with the Department of Revenue.
Steps to Forming a Missouri LLC
Step 1. Naming Requirements
Missouri LLC Name Search
Before settling on a company name, you want to be sure nobody else is using it as each LLC must have a unique name. Here’s how to search available LLC names in Missouri. You can also visit our list of Secretary of State offices to do a free Missouri LLC name search.
If you find a business name you want to register, but aren’t ready to form your LLC, the Missouri Secretary of State to hold the name for up to 60 days.
Your company name must end with the words Limited Liability Company or an abbreviation of these words (“LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “Limited,” “LTD.,” “LTD”.). Check out our article on naming your LLC for all of the requirements that you must follow when naming an LLC.
Also, there are some words that aren’t allowed to be used in the state, like those that could refer to a state agency or that require licensing from the state.
Step 2. Choosing a Registered Agent
What is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is the central point of contact for the LLC, that can be either an individual or business entity, that receives important legal documents, tax notices or communications with the state.
Registered Agent Requirements
The registered agent must generally be available during normal business hours at a physical street address in Missouri to accept service of process. A Post Office Box or personal mailbox is not acceptable. If the registered office includes a suite number, it must be included in the registered office address.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Missouri?
A registered agent in Missouri can either be a resident of the state or a corporation authorized to do business in the state.
Provided you as the business owner have a physical presence in Missouri, you can be the registered agent, however, there are additional privacy benefits to having a third-party registered agent as your name and address will be publicly listed.
Check out our article on why an LLC Registered Agent may be a good choice for your business for more details.
Step 3. Filing the Articles of Organization
The Missouri Articles of Organization is the paperwork used to form an LLC with the state. This is the most important step and many people believe that you need an attorney to file.
While we don’t discourage having an attorney, creating an LLC in Missouri can be done by most people, but you can save considerable money over an attorney and make sure everything is filed correctly by using a formation service such as LegalZoom.
Step 4. Creating an Operating Agreement
An LLC operating agreement is not required in Missouri but is typically a good idea, especially for an LLC owned by multiple people. The primary function of the LLC operating agreement is to govern the relationship between the owners of the business, but also outlines who makes what decisions, how profits or losses are distributed and the operating procedures of the LLC.
Step 5. Getting an EIN
What is an EIN?
The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.
In addition to the EIN being an identifying number for the LLC it serves a few other purposes such as:
- Opening a business bank account
- Federal and State tax purposes
- The business account to pay payroll taxes for employees paid by the company
How to Register an EIN for a Missouri LLC
To file an EIN for your LLC, visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or obtain the SS-4 form. They show the steps on how to apply, but here is a video on how to apply for an EIN for more details. In about five minutes, you will have your number free of charge. Be sure to wait until your LLC is approved before applying for your EIN as the name that is registered for the LLC must be the same as the EIN.
Step 6. Selecting the Tax Status of the LLC
In addition to the personal liability protection the Limited Liability Company provides its members, another key benefit of an LLC the four business entities don’t provide is the flexibility in taxation. There are four ways an LLC can be taxed, compared with two ways for a corporation.
- Single Member LLC – An LLC with one member automatically becomes a single-member LLC with the IRS. The owner simply files their Schedule C with their 1040 at the end of the year. Filing as a single-member LLC means the entity does not pay sales tax and goes to the owner which is called pass-through taxation. The owner pays self-employment taxes on the net profit of the LLC, which while simpler to handle taxes, may be more costly.
- Partnership LLC – An LLC with two or more members is automatically considered a Partnership with the IRS and will file Form 1065. Like the sole-proprietorship as a pass-through entity, the LLC taxed as a Partnership pays no income tax and profit and losses flow to each member’s Form 1040s via Schedule K-1 of Form 1065.
- C Corporation LLC – An LLC can elect to be taxed as a C Corporation by filing IRS Form 8832. The major difference as an LLC that is taxed as a C corporation is that now the LLC pays tax on the profits and losses and are not directly passed down to the members. Most, but not all will find filing as a C Corporation will cost more in taxes as now the LLC has double taxation where there is a tax on the profits and dividends.
- S Corporation LLC – To get S Corporation status, you will file Form 2553 with the IRS. What makes the S Corporation attractive unlike the sole proprietorship or partnership is that you can potentially shield some of the profits from being subject to self-employment taxes. Dividends aren’t typically subject to self-employment taxes which is a large potential savings. There will be more work in accounting an LLC that elected S Corporation status.
Each of the four ways for an LLC to be taxed in the state of Missouri can have a major impact on the taxes that are charged depending on the business and the member’s personal finances. It’s a very good idea to work with an accounting professional to see which one is most efficient for the business and members.
Don't want to go it alone but don't want the expense of an attorney? Another alternative is to use an LLC formation service that will do the formation at a low cost. Take a look at our comparison page of popular LLC formation services.
ZenBusiness has a special offer right now to form an LLC for only the cost of the state fees and a free registered agent for the first three months.
Wanting to start an LLC in a state other than Missouri to save money on taxes? This doesn’t typically do as much as you may think as you will likely register an LLC in the other state and will also usually need to file as a foreign LLC in your home state of Missouri as well. In addition to paying two filing fees to start the LLC and two annual reports each year, there will be multiple tax filings as well and documentation such as the Certificate of Good Standing. Be sure to do your research as there are a lot of people promoting formation services in other states and weigh all the pros and cons before making this decision as it can be a costly one.
Secretary of State – Corporations Division
PO Box 778
600 W Main Street, Room 322
Jefferson City, Missouri 65012