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Northwest Registered Agent charges $225 (plus state fee) for LLC filing services. That said, Northwest’s personalized customer support is a feature that could make their prices worth paying for some entrepreneurs.
Overall, Northwest does have some points in its favor. However, keep in mind that it charges $225 (plus your state’s required fee) for its LLC filing services.
Want to learn more? See this Northwest LLC review.
LegalZoom is one of the biggest names in the industry, with millions of customers served and frequent advertising efforts. LegalZoom provides an LLC filing package for free (plus the state’s fee).
LegalZoom is a huge company, so while it offers extended support hours, the quality of its customer support may vary a bit from representative to representative.
Want to learn more? See this LegalZoom LLC review.
Incfile offers LLC formations for free, as long as you pay your state’s fee. Incfile and ZenBusiness have some similar characteristics, but there are also some significant differences that set the two apart.
If you’re looking for a cheap LLC formation service in Alabama and ZenBusiness doesn’t feel right for some reason, Incfile could be worth a closer look.
Want to learn more? See this Incfile LLC review.
Identify the LLC package and services that fit your needs and then get started.
LLCs are formal legal entities that are typically taxed similarly to sole proprietorships and general partnerships, in that the owners include any company profits or losses into their personal returns — the LLC itself does not owe income taxes.
An LLC may also elect to be taxed like a corporation, although this is not a very common option.
There are similarities to corporations too, especially when it comes to financial responsibilities. In an LLC, the owners or members are not usually personally accountable for the financial status of the business. This means that if someone sues your LLC, your personal assets are not at risk.
While Alabama does not legally require LLCs to create an operating agreement, it’s still strongly recommended. This document can help clear up any disagreements between your owners, and it’s also just generally convenient to have a roadmap of your LLC’s operational aspects.
Alabama’s LLC formations are somewhat expensive, although there are a few states with higher fees. Still, the Alabama Secretary of State charges $200 for the Certificate of Formation. You can pay by check, money order, or credit/debit card, or you can use an Alabama Secretary of State prepaid account. The state typically processes all business filings within 24 hours of receipt.
Alabama’s LLC maintenance requirements are reasonably affordable. This state requires LLCs to file a Business Privilege Tax Return and Annual Report each year, with a $100 minimum fee.
In addition to the costs of a business formation service or hiring an attorney (which are optional, as we’ve discussed), there are quite a few other required and optional expenses when forming and maintaining an Alabama business. You cannot form an LLC in Alabama without reserving your business name and filing the Certificate of Formation, the document that officially registers your business within the state. This filing costs a total of $200 to submit.
You will also need to file and pay the Business Privilege Tax every year, which serves as an annual report for the business. Unlike a lot of states, Alabama does not require a flat fee for this tax; the total tax is graduated based on income. The more your business makes, the more you’ll owe, so it’s reasonable to expect that this fee will change (and ideally grow) year over year. There is, however, a minimum fee of $100 regardless of what your business income is.
Last but not least, there are taxes to consider: most notably income taxes. You’ll also have to pay federal taxes, along with several others. For instance, if you have employees, you’ll pay unemployment insurance tax. If you sell goods or services, you’ll pay sales and use tax. Depending on the nature of your business, there could be other taxes required, so check with the Alabama Department of Revenue to make sure.
Other than that, the other potential expenses only apply to certain businesses. These include things like professional or industry-specific business licenses and business insurance.
An LLC is one of the most popular entity types nationwide. But it isn’t the right type for everyone.
Only you can pick which entity type best fits you and your business; after all, you understand your business idea better than anyone. You have a clear vision for your products and services, both present and future.
To truly determine whether an LLC is right for you, it’s helpful to consider the advantages and disadvantages of LLCs.
There are some common aspects of the LLC and the corporation, starting with the personal asset protection they both provide. Also known as limited liability, this personal asset protection ensures that if your business is sued, only the business assets are at risk. Meanwhile, your personal assets — like your house, car, personal bank accounts, investments, etc. — are protected by your LLC or corporation’s business structure.
In addition, LLCs and corporations both provide their owners with business name exclusivity. If you own and operate a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you will not have exclusive rights to your business name. Instead, if another company decides to use your name as its own, you won’t be able to stop them. In fact, they could even register your business name and gain exclusive rights to it, forcing you to come up with a new one.
In general, an LLC is quicker and easier to form than a corporation. LLCs usually need to provide less information for their formation documents than corporations do, and there are fewer steps in the process as well. For instance, LLCs don’t need to draft corporate bylaws, name officers or board members, hold initial board meetings, or issue stock. On the other hand, corporations need to do all of these things and more.
The LLC is also a less rigid business structure that allows its owners greater flexibility. The business structure of a corporation is inflexible, with many regulations dictating how the business should look and function. Meanwhile, LLCs have options for business management structure and ownership responsibilities that corporations simply don’t have.
Another even more valuable option LLCs have is that they can choose how they want to be taxed. Most LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities, which means the business itself does not pay taxes, but the profits are passed through the LLC itself to its owners, who pay taxes on this money on their personal returns. However, LLCs can also opt to be taxed like corporations (either as a C corporation or an S corporation), giving them more options for taxation than a corporation has.
Corporations have some advantages too, like the ability to sell stock. It’s quite difficult for an LLC to attract outside investments because it cannot issue stock. The vast majority of investors prefer stock as their investment medium, and it’s also very rare to see venture capitalists investing in LLCs. For these reasons, the corporation is a much better option for businesses looking to attract investments.
In addition, the corporation has been around for hundreds of years, while the LLC is a newer addition to the American business landscape. This means that the corporation has more established legalities and also that it’s easier to expand into other states because the corporation’s structure is essentially the same no matter where you form it.
Technically speaking, you don’t have to use an LLC formation service like ZenBusiness or LegalZoom. These services are incredibly helpful, but you can save money by completing the process yourself.
You can read our complete guide to DIY an LLC setup in Alabama, but here’s a quick look at the process:
Every LLC in Alabama needs a name that’s memorable and gives potential clients a good idea of what goods or services are available. The name also needs to be unique — both for legal reasons and so your business stands out from the competition.
As we’ve mentioned in this guide, every LLC needs an agent who can accept service of process on your behalf. In all states, you can act as your own registered agent as long as you have a physical address in the state. That said, we generally recommend that you appoint someone else (like an online service) to act as your agent.
This document, once filled out and filed, officially forms your business in the state of Alabama. You’ll need to provide some important information, including your contact information, your business address, signatures for your LLC’s members, and more. The fee is $200.
Setting up the LLC is as easy as 1-2-3; it’s the maintenance requirements that are a bit more complicated:
If you have employees, you’ll need to get an Employer Identification Number from the IRS. Then there are state-specific taxes, too. Alabama LLCs taxed as individuals will pay a rate that matches their income tax bracket; LLCs taxed as corporations will pay a fixed rate of 6.5%. You will also need to account for sales taxes (4%) and other miscellaneous taxes. More information can be found at the Alabama Department of Revenue.
Alabama requires every business in the state to obtain a business privilege license, but that’s not the only requirement. Many businesses will also need to obtain professional licenses, too. You can find the guidelines for who must obtain these licenses.
Even single-member LLCs should create a “master document” that sets out how the business will operate, both now and in the future.
Each year, your LLC will need to file an annual report to update the state about the standing of your business. In Alabama, this report is technically called the Business Privilege Tax. There is a minimum tax of $100 each year.
Every business with employees needs to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and a commercial vehicle policy for company-owned vehicles. You may also want to get a general business liability policy, too.
You should sign up for a business bank account so you can write checks and make purchases in the name of the business instead of pulling from your personal accounts (a legal no-no).
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. For more detailed guidance, we recommend contacting an attorney or checking out the full Alabama LLC Formation Guide.
We invite you to take a look at our comprehensive guide to forming a limited liability company in Alabama. This article walks you through the LLC formation process in this state step by step, ensuring that you don’t miss any crucial elements.
One of the most important steps in forming an Alabama LLC is choosing and reserving a business name. Once you come up with ideas for your name, you should search through the Secretary of State’s business name availability search to make sure your desired name is available. For more information on conducting a business name search in Alabama, check out our full article on the topic.
You can find the Alabama Certificate of Formation on the Secretary of State’s website.
All LLCs operating in the state of Alabama are required to submit a Business Privilege Tax Return and Annual Report with the Department of Revenue in the first three and a half months of the LLC’s taxable year.
Chances are, you’ll require at least one license or permit to operate your LLC in compliance with Alabama state law. For more information about business licenses and more in this state, check out Alabama’s convenient Business Licensing hub.
Alabama has some of the nation’s fastest turnaround times for business filings. In most cases, the state will process LLC formations within just 24 hours of receiving your documents.
If you want more details about what these companies can offer in this state, or you’d like to take a look at some other options, check out our complete guide to Alabama registered agents.
Unfortunately, not all businesses last forever. If the time comes when you need to close your LLC’s doors, you’ll need to do so in a manner consistent with the state’s regulations. That’s why we wrote our guide to Alabama LLC dissolutions, so you can complete the process in a compliant manner.
If your LLC already exists in another state, you don’t actually need to “form” it in Alabama. Instead, you’ll need to foreign qualify the business in this state. This process is somewhat similar to LLC formation, but there are some crucial differences as well. Take a look at our guide to foreign qualifications in Alabama for more information.
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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