How to Form an LLC in Massachusetts

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This guide to starting an LLC in Massachusetts provides step-by-step instructions on filing formation documents, obtaining tax IDs, and setting up company records.

Overview

LLCs are the most popular business structure because they are inexpensive to form, provide flexibility to the owners, and are easy to run. Forming your LLC legally establishes your business, limits your personal liability, and gains tax flexibility. The following step-by-step will help you as you undertake this process.

Fast Facts: Your Budget and Timeline

Here is an overview of the total paperwork, cost, and time it takes to form an LLC in Massachusetts. Be sure to read the final step in this guide - "Ongoing Filings" - to understand your ongoing costs to maintain a compliant LLC.


Paperwork
  • Form D: Limited Liability Company Certificate of Organization
  • Operating Agreement
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Massachusetts Department of Revenue - WebFile for Businesses - Form TA-1
Cost
  • Formation: $500 + optional $25 expedite fee
Time
  • Formation: ~2-3 business days by mail (plus mail time). ~1-2 business days by fax with $25 expedite fee.

Step-by-Step Massachusetts LLC Instructions

Warning

Massachusetts LLCs pay an annual $500 annual report fee to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

  1. Check Name Availability

    The legal name of your LLC may not conflict with any other registered name. Check availability of your desired name by conducting a name search.

    Name Search: Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
    Name search
    Name Reservation: Optional
    Suffix:

    Shall contain the words ''limited liability company'', ''limited company'', or the abbreviation ''L.L.C.'', ''L.C.'', ''LLC'' or ''LC''. 
    M.G.L. §156C.3

  2. Appoint a Registered Agent

    Identify the LLC’s Massachusetts registered agent. This individual or company receives notice of lawsuit and other legal service for the LLC.

  3. File Massachusetts Certificate of Formation

    File the articles of organization to create your limited liability company.

    Agency:Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
    Form:

    Certificate of Registration

    Filing Method:

    Mail, fax, in-person, or online

    Agency Fee:

    $500 + optional $25 expedite fee

    Turnaround:

    ~2-3 business days by mail (plus mail time). ~1-2 business days by fax with $25 expedite fee.

    Law:

    Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) - Part I: Administration of the Government - Title XXII: Corporations - Chapter 156C: Limited liability Company Act

    Notes:

    Massachusetts permits Professional LLCs which have separate formation requirements.

  4. Establish Company Records

    Your filed articles of organization are the first document for your limited liability company records. Your LLC will generate many other official records such as your operating agreement, meeting minutes, and your EIN.

    Office supplies intended for an LLC will help you stay organized and save time. Membership certificate templates should come with your company record book. Each owner receives a membership certificate as evidence of his or her ownership in the LLC.

  5. Create the Operating Agreement

    Draft an Operating Agreement (potentially using a template) which is the governing document for the LLC. It defines the formalities of how the LLC will run itself such as holding an annual meeting. You will review and adopt the agreement at your organizational meeting.

  6. Hold the Organizational Meeting

    The first meeting of the members of the LLC is the organizational meeting. You will need your filed articles of organization and your operating agreement in order to conduct this meeting. Keep minutes of this meeting and store them in your company record book.

  7. Get a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    If your LLC has more than one member or will hire employees, it must obtain an EIN. An EIN is also often required to open a bank account.

    Agency:Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
    Form:

    IRS Form SS-4

    Filing Method:

    Mail, phone, fax, or online.

    IRS fee:

    $0

    Turnaround:

    Immediately online or by phone. 4 business days by fax. 4-5 weeks by mail.

    Notes:

    The IRS website is only available during certain hours. Print your EIN before closing your session. For additional guidance, see IRS Pub 1635: Understanding Your EIN.

  8. Get Massachusetts State Tax Identification Numbers/Accounts

    Massachusetts offers a consolidated state tax registration application.

    Submit to:
    Massachusetts Department of Revenue
    http://www.mass.gov/dor/
    Form:
    Massachusetts Department of Revenue - WebFile for Businesses - Form TA-1
    Instructions:
    Instructions
    Guidance:
    Tax type descriptions
    Filing Method:
    Online
    Fee:
    $0
    Notes:
    Obtain an EIN first. If needed, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue will mail you Form ST-1: Sales and Use Tax Registration (access to this form is restricted).
  9. Consider Electing S-Corp or C-Corp Taxation

    By default, your LLC receives pass-through taxation and the vast majority of LLCs keep this tax classification. Some LLCs benefit from electing S-Corp or C-Corp tax treatment:

    • S-Corp treatment can help owner-employees who earn more than ~$75,000 per year save on self-employment taxes. File Form 2553: S-Corp Election.
    • C-Corps suffer from double taxation: the corporation pays taxes on profits then members pay taxes on their distributions. If profits exceed $250,000 per owner, you provide employee benefits, or you will re-invest most of your profit in the business, you may benefit from the low tax rates on retained earnings under C-Corp treatment. File Form 8832: C-Corp Election.
  10. Obtain Business Licenses & Permits

    To run your business legally, you must obtain applicable licenses and permits. The easiest way to navigate the wide range of federal, state, and local requirements is to search by your business type and locality using the Small Business Administration Business License & Permit look-up tool.

  11. * Ongoing Filings to Maintain Your LLC

    You must file federal and state tax returns. You must also file:

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