How to Form a Single-Member LLC in Colorado

Starting a single-member LLC in Colorado is an important legal process. Luckily, in this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials to starting a Colorado SMLLC.

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What is a single-member LLC in Colorado?

A single-member LLC (SMLLC) is a limited liability company (LLC) with only one member. “Member” is just another name for an owner of an LLC. For many entrepreneurs, forming a single-member LLC is a popular choice because it’s more secure than being a sole proprietor.

One of the biggest perks to running an LLC is personal asset protection. When you operate as a sole proprietorship, your business and you as an individual are the same legal entity. If you get into legal trouble, you could lose your personal assets.

By comparison, an LLC is a separate legal entity. If your SMLLC is sued or defaults on a business debt, your personal assets usually can’t be taken as compensation. This personal liability protection is a big reason some entrepreneurs decide it’s time to start an LLC.

5 Steps to Start a Colorado Single-Member Limited Liability Company

Starting a Colorado LLC is an extensive process with associated costs and legal formalities. Thankfully we’ve got a roadmap for you. Follow these five steps, and you’ll be well on your way to running a compliant SMLLC.

Step 1: Pick a name for your single-member LLC in Colorado

Your first task is to decide what your Colorado customers will call you. You’ll get to flex your creative muscles by creating a memorable, descriptive name you can be proud of. But you’ll also have to create a name that complies with Colorado naming laws. Colorado requires your name to:

  • Be “distinguishable” from the names of other Colorado entities. You can use our free business name search tool to check if your name is still available.
  • Use standard English characters and Arabic numerals
  • Include an entity designator. Colorado allows LLCs to pick from the following: limited liability company, ltd. liability company, limited liability co., ltd. liability co., limited, LLC, L.L.C., or ltd.
  • Avoid the word “cooperative” and its abbreviations.

Ideally, your name will also match an available domain name so customers can find your online presence easily. If you’d like help with this, our domain name registration service gets you started without any hassle for just $25 a year.

Step 2: Get a registered agent for your Colorado SMLLC

Every Colorado LLC is required to appoint a registered agent. In Colorado, a registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts service of process and certain other state correspondence on your behalf. The agent must have a physical address (not a P.O. box) and be present at that address during all regular business hours.

Colorado technically allows your business to be its own registered agent, but we don’t recommend that. Having a separate agent can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Not sure who to ask? Our registered agent partners can fill this role for you hassle-free.

Step 3: File the Colorado Articles of Organization

Once you’ve got your name and agent selected, you’re ready to file your Colorado formation documents: the Articles of Organization. Once this paperwork is filed, your SMLLC will officially exist. Colorado only accepts online filings for this form.

Colorado charges a $50 filing fee for this form. In 2022, Colorado lowered the filing fee to $1, but that ended in May 2023.

What to Include in Your Articles of Organization

You’ll need to fill in a lot of information about your SMLLC, including your principal office address, your registered agent’s information, and a statement of their consent to serve. You’ll also have to provide data about your organizer, whether it will be a member-managed or manager-managed LLC, and a few other basic contact items.

Step 4: Create a Colorado single-member LLC operating agreement

An operating agreement acts like a constitution or handbook for an LLC; it governs the specifics of how an LLC operates. For example, a typical operating agreement will dictate the responsibilities of each member, how business profits will be distributed, how members can be added or removed.

An operating agreement won’t affect your SMLLC as much as a multi-member LLC, but it’s still a good idea to create one. The operating agreement helps maintain your personal liability protection, and you never know how your single-member LLC might grow in the future. If you’re not sure where to start, our customizable template (guided by a chatbot assistant) is a great tool.

Step 5: Get a single-member LLC EIN

An EIN, or Employer Identification number, acts like a Social Security number for a business entity. Any LLC is required to get one if they have more than one member, owe excise taxes, or have employees. Many banks also require you to have one to get a business bank account.

As a result, some single owner LLCs don’t have to get one, but it’s a good idea for future growth. And you can obtain one for free with the IRS. And if you’re not a fan of tax paperwork, we can file the EIN form for you.

Colorado Single-Member LLC Taxes

As a single-member LLC, your default tax status is a “disregarded entity” for federal tax purposes. Disregarded entities are separate legal entities that don’t pay taxes themselves; instead, the SMLLC’s owner will report their profits from the business on their personal tax returns. The owner will pay taxes accordingly (also known as pass-through taxation).

In Colorado, this process repeats on the state level. Unless you opt to be taxed as a corporation or elect S corporation status for federal tax purposes, you’ll be subject to pass-through taxation on both state and federal levels.

Benefits of an SMLLC in Colorado

Still not sure why you should bother starting an SMLLC? It’s a time-consuming process to be sure, but it’s worth the effort. There are lots of perks to running a single-member LLC in Colorado.

Flexibility and Easy Maintenance

An SMLLC still has legal maintenance requirements — paying taxes, filing your periodic report, maintaining a registered agent, and staying up-to-date on business licenses. But compared to other business entity types (especially corporations), an LLC is quite simple to run compliantly.

Autonomy

A lot of entrepreneurs enjoy the ability to call the shots: setting their schedule, introducing new products, acquiring new tools, and more. As the sole owner of an SMLLC, you’ll have the freedom to run your business the way you’d like.

Personal Liability Protection

Operating as a single-member LLC (instead of a sole proprietorship) grants you personal asset protection in most instances. If the LLC defaults on a loan, can’t pay back a business expense, or has other legal issues, only the LLC will lose assets. Your personal belongings are safe.

Taxation Options

Many SMLLC owners keep their default status as a disregarded entity to pay personal tax rates only instead of corporate and personal taxes. But others elect to be taxed as a corporation or an S corporation instead. The luxury of an LLC is that you have that option to choose.

Extra Legitimacy

Some customers feel more comfortable interacting with an LLC over a sole proprietor. The designator “LLC” adds a lot of weight to your name.

We can help!

Just because you’re starting a single-member LLC doesn’t mean that you have to do everything by yourself. At ZenBusiness, we’re passionate about helping entrepreneurs focus on what really matters: their business. But being compliant is important, too. That’s why we offer a zero-cost LLC formation service, periodic report filing, worry-free compliance, and so much more.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational 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.

Single-Member LLC Colorado FAQs

  • Colorado law requires every LLC to have at least one member; there’s no requirement to have more members than that. SMLLCs are perfectly legal.

  • That depends on your taxation structure. Colorado requires all entities that file a federal tax return to also file a state tax return (and pay the business income tax). If you’re still a disregarded entity status for federal income tax purposes, your LLC won’t file a Colorado business income tax return. You will file one if you decide to be taxed as a corporation, add additional members, or elect S corporation status.

  • All LLCs that make sales will need to collect and pay the state sales tax. But whether your LLC actually pays Colorado income taxes directly depends on your taxation structure. If you’re taxed as a pass-through entity, the LLC’s member (or members) will pay personal income taxes, not the LLC itself. But if the LLC opts to be taxed as a corporation, then the corporation itself will pay taxes to Colorado.

Start Your Single-Member LLC in Colorado