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Step-by-Step Guide to Starting an LLC in Illinois [2022]

Illinois LLC Quick Facts

Illinois LLC Costs

Initial Cost:
– State LLC Filing Fee: $150


Recurring Cost:
– Annual Report Filing Fee: $75

Illinois LLC Processing Time

Normal processing is 3-4 weeks, however one business day processing is available.

Not sure about filing an LLC yourself?

Want an LLC, but not sure about filing the paperwork yourself? Let Zenbusiness, IncFile, or IncAuthority help guide you through the LLC formation process, so you know everything was done right.

IncFile and IncAuthority are both currently running a special where you only pay state fees for your LLC formation!


Guide to Starting an LLC in Illinois

If you’re thinking about starting your own business, one of the first things you’ll need to do is choose the right legal structure. An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is a popular option for small businesses, and it’s easy to set up in Illinois. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular business structure for many start-up businesses in Illinois.  The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Illinois yourself and save a lot of money.

Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting the business owner’s personal assets.

Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration, and management flexibility.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Illinois

Steps to Form an Illinois LLC

The following steps create a domestic LLC, which is the most common filing.  We have more information about forming a foreign LLC (an out-of-state LLC wanting approval to operate in the state) or a professional LLC (designated for LLCs offering professional services).

To get started, you can either apply on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website or file Form LLC-5.5.

Total Time: 10 minutes

Step 1: Choose the Type of LLC

Indicate whether you wish to establish a “standard” domestic Limited Liability Company or a Limited Liability Company that has the ability to establish as a series LLC.

A limited liability company with the ability to establish a series, commonly referred to as a “Series LLC,” has the ability to essentially create a mini LLC within the larger LLC umbrella.  Real estate investors will often use the Series LLC to protect each property individually.

Step 2: Agree to Provisions

Read over the provisions.  Agree to continue.

Step 3: Name the LLC

Enter the name you want for the LLC.  The name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names in the state of Illinois.  Learn how to check LLC name availability in Illinois.

The name of the LLC must include one of the following designators at the end of the business name:
– Limited Liability Company
– L.L.C.
– L3C

A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator.  “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.
If there is a name you want but are not ready to register the LLC, you can file the Application to Reserve a Name (Form LLC 1.15) with the Illinois Secretary of State. The name reservation will hold a name for up to 90 days, at the cost of $25.

Before finalizing a name, learn more about LLC Name Requirements in Illinois.
Before selecting a name, you may also want to see if the domain name is also available.

Step 4: Enter the Principal Place of Business

In this section, enter the street address, city, state, and zip code of the initial principal office (sometimes referred to as the registered office address).  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, the address where the business records are stored, or the address of the registered agent.

Step 5: Appoint the Illinois Registered Agent

Under the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act, an Illinois Registered Agent must be identified for service of process to have an LLC in Illinois.  This can either be a resident of Illinois or a commercial registered agent service and must have a physical street address in the state to act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc. on behalf of the LLC.  A PO Box is not allowed.

You can act as your own registered agent in Illinois, and you are not required to pay for a registered agent.

Any individual meeting the requirements can be the agent; however, the agent’s name and address become public record, and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when doing business from home or still employed.  Hiring a commercial Registered Agent service like Northwest Registered Agent will help keep the owner’s names from being publicly listed.

Related: Do I Need a Registered Agent in Illinois?

Step 6: Add the Names and Addresses of Managers and Members

This section is looking for the names and addresses of managers and/or members with the authority of manager.

Member-Managed LLCs have members (LLC owners) that are active in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Manager-Managed LLCs have managers hired by the LLC members to run the business, similar to a CEO of a corporation.

If the LLC is Member-Managed, all of the members would typically be entered.  If there is only one member, enter that member’s information. Member-Managed LLCs would enter the name of the manager(s).

Related: What is the Difference Between a Member-Managed LLC and Manager-Managed LLC?

Step 7: Obtain the Organizer’s Signature

Illinois LLC Organizer Signature

The Organizer is someone who is involved with the LLC formation.  The Organizer may or may not be a member, such as a mentor, attorney, or accountant, but the initial member(s) could be listed as an organizer.
If the organizer agrees to the terms, they will sign and provide their contact information.

Related: Who can be an LLC Organizer

Step 8: Review the Entries

Review the information to ensure it is all correct.

Step 9: Select Processing

Illinois LLC Expedited Service

Choosing “no expedited service” saves $100, in filing fees, but the application won’t be reviewed for 10 business days, resulting in a total processing time of 3-4 weeks.  Requesting expedited service will reduce the time of reviewing the application down to 24 hours, resulting in the LLC’s total processing time to 1-2 business days.

Step 10: Pay and File the Illinois LLC Articles of Organization

Pay and file the Illinois Articles of Organization.

If mailing the LLC form, send two copies of the Articles of Organization and payment of state fees to:
Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S 2nd Street, Room 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Consider using an LLC formation service like Zenbusiness, IncAuthority, Northwest, or IncFile to guide you through the LLC formation process, so you know everything was done right.

IncAuthority and IncFile are currently running a special where you only pay state fees for your LLC formation and they do the rest!

What do you do after forming an Illinois LLC?

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare an Illinois LLC Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, the process of adding new members, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed, and more.

Illinois does not require an LLC to have an operating agreement, but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished.
  • Members may not fully understand their roles and responsibilities, which could lead to costly disputes in the future.

Related: Illinois operating agreement template

Obtain an EIN

The EIN or Employer Identification Number (also called a Federal Employer Identification Number, FEIN, or Tax ID Number) is a unique 9-digit tax identification number assigned to a business by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes. The EIN will be needed to hire employees, open a bank account, register for business licenses and permits, file tax returns, and more.

How much is an EIN number in Illinois?

There is no cost for the EIN when registering through the IRS. The number is available immediately when applying through the IRS website; however, you can also register by phone, fax, or mailing IRS Form SS-4.

Related: How to Apply for an EIN

Elect the LLC’s Form of Federal Income Taxation

One of the significant benefits of the Limited Liability Company is the tax flexibility it provides.  When applying for the Employer Identification Number, you will choose how the entity will be taxed for federal income tax purposes. While there are some limitations, an LLC may be classified for federal income tax purposes as a:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • C-corporation
  • S-corporation

While this may sound confusing, this refers to how the LLC is taxed, not the legal structure.

Related: How can an LLC be taxed?

By default, an LLC’s taxation is called pass-through taxation, which means the profits or losses of the LLC flow through to the members.

Single-member LLCs will, by default, be taxed as a sole proprietorship. The members can also elect to change the taxation to a C-corporation or an S-corporation.

Multi-member LLCs will, by default, be taxed as a partnership. The members can also elect to change the taxation to a C-corporation or an S-corporation.

In general, the difference between being taxed as a corporation and being taxed as a sole proprietorship or partnership the profits and losses are passed to the member’s federal income tax returns based on their percentage of ownership.  As a result, the owner will pay self-employment taxes on all business profits.  As an alternative, electing to be taxed as a corporation allows the members to take a reasonable salary and then pay payroll taxes.  Any remaining profits are distributed and aren’t subject to payroll taxes, resulting in potential tax savings.

Before electing how your LLC will be taxed, consider talking with an accountant to assess which one will be best for you as there may be significant downsides for some people (such as double taxation with the C-corp).

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the bank account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.
Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account, such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • Driver’s licenses of the members.
  • Depending on the LLC age, an Illinois Certificate of Good Standing may be needed to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Related: How to Open a Business Bank Account for your LLC

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be various business licenses and permits needed before starting your business. Some common registrations include:

  • Business License – Some states and several cities require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start.
  • Professional License – Certain services such as barbershops, accountants, salons, and others are licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
  • Sales Tax Permit – To sell products and certain services, registration with the Illinois Department of Revenue through MyTaxIllinois will be necessary.

Related: What Business Licenses are Needed in Illinois?

File Annual Reports

LLCs are required to file an annual report with the Illinois Secretary of State.  The annual report is due each year before the first day of the month in which the LLC was created. For example, if the LLC were created on November 5th, 2021, the next annual report would be due on November 1st, 2022.  A penalty of $100 is assessed if the report is more than 60 days after the due date.

Related: How to File an LLC Annual Report

Common Questions To Starting an LLC in Illinois

How much does it cost to form an LLC in Illinois?

The cost to form an LLC in Illinois is a state filing fee of $150, paid to the Illinois Secretary of State.

Is there a yearly fee for an LLC in Illinois?

An annual report will need to be filed each year, in addition to paying a $75 fee to the Secretary of State.

How long does it take to form an LLC in Illinois?

It normally takes 3-4 weeks for an LLC to be approved in Illinois, though for an additional fee, one business day processing is available.

Can you be your own Registered Agent in Illinois?

Anyone can act as a registered agent, provided they are at least 18 years of age, a resident of the state, and are generally available during normal business hours.

Related: What are the requirements of an Illinois Registered Agent?

Does an LLC need a business license in Illinois?

It’s sometimes thought that the LLC and business license are the same in Illinois, but they aren’t. An LLC is referred to as the business entity, which is how the business is organized to conduct business. A business license is an approval from a government entity to legally operate.

Related: What business licenses are needed in Illinois?

Can you use a PO Box for your LLC in Illinois?

A PO Box can only be used as a mailing address for the LLC. A physical street address in Illinois must be used for the Principal Place of Business and Registered Agent.

Related: Why can’t I use a PO Box for my LLC?

Where do you check if your Illinois LLC name is available?

You can do a free Illinois LLC name search on the Illinois Secretary of State’s name database.

What is a Foreign Limited Liability Company?

An Illinois foreign LLC is an LLC that was formed in another state but wants to physically operate in Illinois. Physically operating means having a presence, such as having an office or hiring an employee.

Related: What is the difference between a domestic Illinois LLC and a foreign LLC?

What is a Professional Limited Liability Company?

All businesses that require state licensing through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) must register as a Professional LLC (PLLC).

A few professional occupations that require licensing include accountants, attorneys, podiatrists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, etc.

Is an LLC the same as a corporation?

The LLC is one of four main types of business entities. You can learn more about each here:
What is a sole proprietorship?
What is a general partnership?
How to form an Illinois corporation

Do you automatically get an EIN with your LLC?

The EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique number that is available through the IRS.

Single-member LLCs without employees can use the owner’s social security number, otherwise, they will need to apply for an EIN.

What should I put for purpose of LLC?

When filling out the Illinois Articles of Organization paper form, there is a section to fill out the Purpose(s) for which the Limited Liability Company is organized. This will show up when filing online, but you are not able to add to it.

There is the provided purpose statement that says The transaction of any or all lawful business for which Limited Liability Companies may be organized under this Act and/or exclusively for the purpose(s) stated below:. You are not required to add any additional information unless limiting the scope of the LLC is desired.

Should I use an LLC formation service or do it myself?

Following our guide, most people will be able to form an LLC on their own, however, LLC formation services like IncFile and IncAuthority will guide you through the process and guarantee it’s done right – and it doesn’t cost any extra to do so!

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