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Last Updated: 2/8/24
Kicking off your Alaska LLC amidst the breathtaking expanses of the Last Frontier? The vast wilderness and spirited communities of Alaska are calling out to your entrepreneurial spirit. If you’re smitten by the appeal of the limited liability company (LLC) structure, it’s time to get those business boots on and tread confidently.
LLCs bypass many of the structural and reporting requirements of a corporation while protecting the personal assets of the owners in the event the business is sued or goes into debt. LLCs also avoid the “double taxation” of a typical corporation, in which profits are taxed both at the business level and again on the personal level.
But just as Alaska’s vast landscapes come with their share of mysteries and wonders, setting up an LLC here is an adventure with its own twists and turns. Without a guide, it’s a bit like trying to navigate the Yukon River without a paddle.
Don’t fret. We’ve charted out the waters for you with a detailed course on how to nurture and grow your LLC in Alaska, helping ensure you steer clear of bureaucratic icebergs.
Your first port of call is the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing. To save us all a breath and keep our fingers from freezing as we type, let’s just call them the Division of Corporations. From naming your LLC to picking your registered agent and beyond, we’ve got the map to your Alaskan treasure.
Before setting up an LLC in Alaska, take note that this guide only applies to a domestic Alaska LLC filing. If you need to form a foreign LLC (formed outside of the state), then you’ll need to file different paperwork. Alaska doesn’t allow nonprofit and professional limited liability company (PLLC) formations, and we don’t assist with foreign LLCs, nonprofit LLCs, or PLLC filings. If you’re a licensed professional wanting to start a business in Alaska, then check out our guide on starting a professional corporation in Alaska.
Now let’s take you through the five steps to forming an LLC in Alaska:
Choose a name for your LLC in Alaska. This is a major step since naming your LLC gives it its identity. Your name can be anything you’d like as long as it falls in line with the rules the state has established. Come up with a list and make sure each has marketability value while being catchy. If you need some help, we have an article on coming up with a business name.
If you’re looking to create a perfect business name for your Alaska LLC, here are the steps you’ll need to complete.
If you meet these requirements, you’ll be well on your way to creating a compliant business name.
If you’ve found a name you like but you’re not quite ready to start your business, don’t worry. Alaska allows you to reserve your business name. To do so, you’ll need to file the Business Name Reservation form with the Division of Corporations. There is a $25 filing fee. Filing a name reservation will give you 120 days of protection for your name (and you can renew the reservation up to two times). For more detailed information about this process, check out the Department of Commerce website.
Some businesses adopt an “assumed name” if they wish to operate under a name that differs from their legal name. This name is also known as a “doing business as” (DBA) name. You’ll need to request one with the Division of Corporations. In order to do this, you’ll need to first obtain a corresponding Alaska Business License. Once you’ve done that, you’ll fill out and submit a Name Change Form form for a small filing fee.
Check out our article about Alaska DBA names.
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Name an Alaska LLC registered agent. Early in our guide, we mentioned having to get a registered agent for your business. In Alaska, all LLCs must have this agent (Alaska Statute 10.50.055). In other states, this person or entity is sometimes referred to as a resident agent, statutory agent, or agent for service of process.
A registered agent can be either a resident of Alaska or a domestic or foreign corporation authorized to do business in the state. Their responsibilities include receiving legal notices (such as notices of lawsuits) and certain government correspondence on behalf of the business. In order to remain in good standing with the state, you must always have a registered agent for the business.
Alaska has pretty straightforward legal requirements for who can serve as registered agent for a limited liability company. According to Alaska law, the registered agent must:
Anyone who meets those requirements can serve as a registered agent. As a result, a lot of business owners choose between serving as their own agent, having a friend or family member fill the role, or hiring a third party registered agent service.
Even if you are allowed to serve as your own registered agent, it’s recommended to hire a registered agent service. Let’s talk about why that is. A registered agent service:
Here at ZenBusiness, we can fill this role for you. Our registered agent service helps you comply with Alaska registered agent requirements seamlessly and easily.
Fill out and file your Articles of Organization with the Alaska Division of Corporations. When this formation document is approved, your LLC becomes official. This is a crucial document, so make sure that all of the information on it is truthful and correct. If filing legal forms like this makes you angsty, then look into our business formation plans to make sure that everything on your formation documents is correct.
Although we can file the Articles for you, if you prefer to do it yourself, then continue on.
The Articles of Organization requires specific information in order to be approved. Here are a few details you’ll need to include in your State of Alaska LLC application:
Bear in mind that this information will become public record once your LLC is approved.
When you’re ready to file your Alaska Articles of Organization, you can do so in two ways. To file online, you’ll go to the Division of Corporations “Filing by Entity Type” webpage and choose the LLC structure. Choose the Articles of Organization online option and follow the instructions. The good news is that you won’t need to create an account to do so.
For a mail filing, you’ll go to that same webpage and choose the Articles of Organization (PDF) option. You can print the document, fill it out, and mail it to the Division of Corporations. Both methods have a filing fee of $250. The processing time is around 10-15 business days.
After filing the Articles, you must submit an Initial Report within six months. You don’t need to pay a fee with the Initial Report. For more information on this, see our Alaska Initial Report guide.
In your Articles of Organization, you’ll be asked if you want a member-managed LLC or a manager-managed LLC. The former sees the business managed by the members and the latter sees it managed by managers.
If you decide to have a manager-managed LLC, then you and any other members must name a person (either one of the members or an outside party) to be a manager. An LLC can also have multiple managers.
Whichever management structure you choose, you’ll make this designation in the Articles of Organization and can also list it in your operating agreement.
Draft an Alaska LLC operating agreement. This document sets the internal rules and policies of the business. You can establish these regulations however you’d like as long as you don’t violate any laws. An Alaska operating agreement isn’t legally required for Alaska LLC registration. However, drafting one can serve your business’s best interests.
There’s no official comprehensive operating agreement guide to follow, so you’ll have some freedom in creating yours.
We mentioned above that LLCs aren’t legally required to have an operating agreement. The benefits of having one may convince you to do so. They include:
You’re free to create the operating agreement however you want and include whatever you feel is important to help your business run smoothly. If you’ve never put one together before and aren’t sure what to add, here are some options:
If you’re feeling unsure about how to draft an operating agreement, then check out our customizable template to help get you started.
A solid operating agreement helps the members of an LLC lay out the business’s rules and policies. If you plan to be the business’s only owner, then you might think that this document isn’t needed. After all, no one else will need to know the LLC’s rules but you, right? Consider drafting one anyway, though, since this agreement can benefit you in other ways.
One includes creating a plan of succession, as we mentioned above. As the only owner, if something happens to you, what will become of the business? Do you want it handed over to someone else, or would you prefer it be dissolved? An operating agreement can clarify your wishes.
Another reason to create an operating agreement is that it can come in handy if you ever need to convince investors or lenders to help your business. The operating agreement can show that you’ve planned your business well and have things covered. It also provides further evidence that you and the business are separate entities if someone ever tries to prove otherwise in court.
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An EIN, also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number, is like a Social Security number for your company. It identifies your business when the time comes to file taxes. An EIN is required if you have multiple owners, hire employees, or meet any of the IRS’s other conditions. Most banks also require an EIN to open a business bank account. We offer an EIN service to handle the process for you.
Alaska has a few unique tax nuances you’ll want to be aware of. For starters, Alaska doesn’t have a personal income tax rate, so LLCs that maintain their default tax status won’t owe income taxes at the state level. But if you opt to be taxed as a corporation, you’ll make state income tax payments, too.
Alaska also doesn’t impose a statewide sales tax, but there’s a chance your city or county might. You’ll need to check with your local revenue department for full details about local sales taxes. Beyond that, Alaska charges a few industry-specific taxes, especially for alcoholic beverages.
For more information about business taxes, check out the Alaska Department of Revenue’s website. It’s also highly recommended to chat with an Alaska tax attorney to get customized guidance for your unique business situation.
LLCs are known for being flexible in their management, but did you know that they’re also quite flexible with their tax obligations? By default, a single-member LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship while multi-member LLCs are taxed as partnerships. This avoids “double taxation,” in which profits are taxed at both the business level and the individual owner level. But an LLC can also elect to be taxed as a C corporation or S corporation.
A C corp designation comes with double taxation. Although this can be a drawback, some LLCs may find the benefits of a C corp election worth the double taxation. For example, C corps come with the most tax deductions.
An LLC with an S corp designation retains pass-through taxation, but it also has the potential to save money on self-employment taxes. This happens when the members become “employee-owners,” allowing you to split your income between your salary and the company’s profits. That way, you only pay the taxes earmarked for Social Security and Medicare on your salary, not on your other profits. You may have other tax liabilities regarding your profits, however.
An S corp election does have a couple of drawbacks. The IRS tends to keep a closer eye on LLCs with this election, meaning the likelihood of an audit is higher. An S corp designation is also harder to qualify for. Speak with a tax professional about your LLC’s tax liabilities. If you want to apply for S corp status in Alaska, we may be able to help you with our S corp service.
Here’s a quick checklist of the essential forms and expenses you’ll encounter when you start an LLC in Alaska.
There is a significant chance that your business will have other forms to file, but these are the most common. No matter what your business is, these are the forms you can reasonably expect.
After you’ve completed the five steps in our guide, consider the following additional steps. Most are more considerations, but the Alaska LLC biennial report submission is required. Read on to learn more.
Before starting a business in Alaska, obtaining a business license is mandatory. This involves filling out an application with the Alaska Division of Corporations, which can be submitted either online or through traditional mail. The application fee is set at $50. To maintain your Alaska LLC business license, renewal is required annually for $50 or biennially for $100, based on the choice made during the initial application. It’s important to note that fees may vary over time, so it’s advisable to verify the latest fee schedule with the Division of Corporations. Regardless of when the license is acquired, it will expire on December 31 of each year.
Commingling your personal and business activities into one bank account can be problematic when tax season arrives. Another problem can come up if you’re taken to court and someone claims that you and the business are the same entity since you share the same bank account.
Our discounted business bank account can help you avoid these problems. You’ll get unlimited transactions, a debit card, online banking features, and more. If you plan to allow others to access this account, then check out our banking resolution template.
Looking for a way to establish a line of credit for your business? You might want to consider getting a business credit card.
You may need some help handling your business’s finances. You can take charge of this responsibility with our help by using ZenBusiness Money. This service allows you to create invoices, track your LLC’s expenses, transfer payments, manage clients, and more.
LLCs come with limited personal liability for their owners, but getting extra coverage may be worthwhile depending on your needs and industry. Workplace accidents and professional mishaps can happen, and when they do, you may find yourself paying heavy costs.
Discuss with the other LLC members (if any) whether additional protections are needed. Look into the many insurance companies out there that offer business coverage and see which policies have the most attractive benefits and affordability.
If you’d like more information about business insurance, visit our business insurance guide.
In Alaska, LLCs are required to file an Alaska biennial report with the Division of Corporations for a fee of $100 (as of this writing). According to the Division of Corporations, if your LLC was formed in an even-numbered year, then your biennial report is due January 2 of every even-numbered year after. The same goes for odd-numbered years. In other words, the biennial report is due on January 2 every two years. You can file online on the Division of Corporations “Biennial Report” webpage.
We can handle this filing for you every time it’s due with our annual report service.
The following items may also apply to your business.
Only you can run your LLC, so we can’t tell you who to hire. However, we can offer some information that can help you find employees. First, if there are other members in the LLC, discuss who you want to join the team. Which skills, education, experience, and qualifications will this person need to help the business run smoothly and grow?
If you aren’t sure where to start, head over to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development website. In the “Employers” tab on the homepage, you’ll find plenty of resources and informative articles that can help you find the employees you need. You can even post a job there.
A Certificate of Compliance, also known as a Certificate of Good Standing in many states, is a form that verifies your LLC is in good standing with the state. This means that it’s been legally formed and is following the state’s rules for operation. You aren’t required to have this form to conduct business, but it can make it easier to:
If your business is out of compliance, perhaps due to being late in filing your biennial report, for example, then the state will reject your request. To get your Certificate, go to the Division of Corporations “Certificate of Compliance” webpage. Check out our article on how to get an Alaska Certificate of Compliance. If you’re ready to request one, then we can help you.
Alaska LLCs are a popular choice for a lot of small business owners. But if you’re not sure if it’s right for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of other business structures to choose from. Let’s talk through them.
Ultimately, a lot of small business owners opt for an LLC because it combines the flexibility and easy management of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the asset protections of a corporation. For a lot of entrepreneurs, that’s a win-win.
If you’re not sure which business entity type is right for you, we highly recommend chatting with an Alaska business attorney. They’ll give you personalized guidance so you can pick the most advantageous structure for your unique goals.
Filing business and legal documents can be nerve-racking. With our Alaska LLC formation service (starting at $0), you can rest assured knowing that your business formation process will be done right the first time. We also offer plenty of other professional services to help you start, run, and grow your business.
We’ll be with you all the way, whether you’re starting a king crab restaurant in Anchorage or an auto shop in Fairbanks. Reach out to us to learn more about what we can do for you.
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You’re required to have an Alaska business license before conducting business in the state, so you’ll need to complete an Alaska Division of Corporations: Online Business License Application. You can do this online or by postal mail. In either case, the fee is $50. The Alaska LLC business license must be renewed either once a year for $50 or every two years for $100, depending on your initial application. Fees change over time, so check with the Division of Corporations for the current fee schedule. Regardless of the date you purchased the license, it expires on December 31.
You can find more information on what types of industries require special Alaska licenses and permits on the state website. Permit and licensing fees will vary depending on your line of business and other factors.
It’s important to note that the federal government as well as the state and your city and county could require special permits or licenses based on your industry, location, and/or other factors. Unfortunately, because licensing varies by industry and location and can occur on the federal, state, and local levels, there’s no central place to check to see if you have all the licenses and permits you need. You’ll need to do some research.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the peace of mind of knowing that you have all the licensing your LLC is legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.
At a minimum, the initial cost to start an LLC in Alaska is $250 for filing your Alaska LLC Articles of Organization, plus the Alaska business license cost of $50. There’s no filing fee for the Initial Report. You may have additional Alaska fees to pay if you reserve a business name, get a DBA, need additional licenses and permits, etc., all of which can raise the Alaska LLC cost.
By default, if your LLC consists of one person, it’s taxed as a “disregarded entity” at the federal level, meaning it’s taxed as a sole proprietorship. This means that profits aren’t taxed at the business level, but only when they “pass through” to become your income.
If your LLC has more than one member, it’s taxed as a partnership by default, which also means the business income is taxed at the individual owner level and not the business’s. This avoids the “double taxation” that corporations pay, in which profits are taxed at the corporate level and again when they’re paid out to the owners (“shareholders”).
Single-member LLCs don’t have to file a separate federal return for their LLC; they report the LLC income on their personal income tax return (Tax Form 1040). But LLCs with multiple members must file a separate informational federal return for the LLC, Form 1065. Then each LLC member reports their share of the profits on Schedule K-1 and attaches it to their own personal federal tax return.
Members of LLCs can also elect to be taxed as corporations. Some LLC members choose to classify their businesses as an S corporation or a C corporation, which can be advantageous in some cases. In particular, many LLCs elect to be taxed as S corporations because it can lower the amount of taxes they pay for Social Security and Medicare.
At the state level, Alaska is one of the few states without personal state income tax. So, owners of LLCs won’t pay state income tax on their earnings from the company if they’re taxed as pass-through entities. However, if they choose to be taxed as a C corporation, they’ll have to pay Alaska’s corporate income tax.
Also unlike most states, Alaska has no statewide sales tax. Certain local governments, though, may impose their own sales taxes.
Transferring ownership of an LLC can be a complicated process because, unlike corporations, you can’t simply sell shares. First, consult any established rules for transferring ownership in your operating agreement. From there, you may want to consult an attorney. See our How to Transfer LLC Ownership in Alaska guide for more information.
Writing a business plan may not be a legal requirement, but it’s an excellent idea. Business plans help entrepreneurs develop strategies to set up new companies for success. Also, without a business plan, it might be hard for you to persuade others to invest in or join your business.
Here’s an overview of Alaska LLC advantages:
LLCs have another advantage in Alaska because there’s no personal state income tax. So, the LLC’s profits won’t be subject to state income taxes at the business level or the individual level unless it chooses to be taxed as a C corporation.
Learn more about the LLC business structure and its advantages.
Online filings are often processed immediately. Filing by postal mail, though, is usually 10-15 business days, though it may take longer during busier times of the year.
No. The operating agreement is an internal document, so it doesn’t have to be filed with any government agency. Just keep it with your other important legal documents.
Alaska LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities by default. This means that the LLC itself doesn’t pay federal income taxes, but each member must pay their own income taxes on profits received from the company on their personal tax returns. This is unlike most corporations, in which profits are taxed twice, first at the business level and again at the individual shareholder level.
In some instances, it might be preferable to have an LLC taxed as a C corporation to take advantage of more tax deductions. Some LLCs elect to be taxed as an S corporation if it will save them money on self-employment taxes. These are both more complicated tax filings and should be discussed with a tax expert beforehand.
No, Alaska doesn’t currently allow for a Series LLC structure. In a Series LLC organization, multiple LLCs operate under one larger LLC. Each company has its own rights, obligations, and assets under the umbrella company.
Dissolving an LLC requires multiple steps. First, consult your operating agreement so that you can follow the rules established there for dissolving the LLC. You’ll also need to submit the Articles of Dissolution along with the requisite filing fee to the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, Corporations Section.
For more on how to dissolve an LLC in Alaska, visit our Alaska business dissolution guide.
Yes, a trade name, also known as an assumed name or DBA, can be assigned to an Alaska LLC. First, you’ll need to obtain a corresponding Alaska Business License. Then, you’ll fill out and submit a New Business Name Registration form for a small fee.
Follow the rules for removing a member established in your operating agreement. If you don’t have an operating agreement or you still have questions, consult an attorney.
Most states require LLCs to file an annual report to update the government on important information about the business. Alaska only requires a report like this once every two years. LLCs are required to file an Alaska biennial report with the Division of Corporations for a fee of $100 (as of this writing).
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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