Start a Business in Iowa

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This guide on starting your business in Iowa provides step-by-step instructions on the paperwork to file formation documents, obtain tax IDs, and set up company records.

how to start a business

Step-By-Step Startup

Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to form each of the most popular business structures. Simply click on the link for your desired structure to view detailed step-by-step instructions.

  • If you have not decided whether you want to form an LLC, corporation, or other business structure, click here.
  • If wish to form your business in a different state than Iowa, click here.
Structure Paperwork Cost Time

Iowa Limited Liability Company

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  • Formation: $50
  • Iowa business tax registration: The state fee varies based on the tax accounts / licenses required.
  • Formation: ~1-2 business days

Iowa Corporation

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  • Iowa Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • Form 2553: S-Corp Election, if desired
  • Form 78-005a: Iowa Business Tax Registration
  • FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Report
  • Incorporation: $50
  • Incorporation: ~1-2 business days

Iowa Nonprofit

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  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • IRS Form SS-4: Obtain an EIN
  • IRS Form 1023: 501(c) Tax Exempt Application
  • IRS Determination Letter
  • Form 78-005a: Iowa Business Tax Registration
  • URS Charitable Registration, if applicable
  • FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Report
  • Incorporation: $20
  • 501(c): $275 or $600 IRS fee
  • Iowa Business Tax Registration: varies based on tax accounts/licenses
  • Incorporation: ~1-2 business days
  • 501(c): 2 weeks to 3 months

Top 5 Tips on Registering a Business in Iowa

  1. The Iowa Secretary of State does not offer template forms for many common filings including business formations. We can custom prepare and file your formation documents if you prefer our assistance.
  2. The Secretary of State takes approximately 1-2 days to process business filings, which makes Iowa among the most efficient states.
  3. A corporate designator in your business name is required.
  4. Registering for Iowa state tax accounts can take ~4-6 weeks. This means you should plan ahead, for example, if you need a sales tax license.
  5. Biennial reports are mailed to the registered agent and are due on April 1st.