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, that protects 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.
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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).
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.
Related: How to form an Illinois 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. If you don’t agree to any of these and want a different option, you will need to file the paper form. Here you are agreeing to:
– Having the Articles of Organization will be effective on the filing date. (You can elect to have the LLC start up to 90 later.
– Agreeing to the general business purpose statement. This is fine for most businesses and allows an LLC to engage in any legal business activity. (Some LLCs will choose a very defined purpose statement.)
– The company will have one or more members on the date of filing.
– The LLC will have perpetual existence. Some LLCs, mostly investment-related ones, will have a specific end date in mind.
– There not be any optional provisions to file.
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
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.
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).
Step 7: Obtain the Organizer’s 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
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
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What Do You Do After Starting 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.
Obtain an EIN
If the LLC will hire employees or is owned by more than one member, an EIN is required.
The EIN or Employer Identification Number (also referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number, FEIN, or Federal 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, build business credit, register for business licenses and permits, file federal and state taxes, and more.
If an Employer Identification Number isn’t required, the LLC can either use the owner’s social security number or register for an EIN.
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
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.
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 for a sales tax permit is needed through the Illinois Department of Revenue through MyTaxIllinois.
File the Illinois LLC Annual Report
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, 2023, the next annual report would be due November 1st, 2024. 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
Illinois LLC FAQs
How much does it cost to file 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.
In addition to the filing fee, there may be other Illinois LLC fees that apply.
Do you have to register your LLC every year 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 for an LLC to be approved in Illinois?
It normally takes 7-10 business days for online filing or 3-4 weeks for paper filing to have 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.
Which business licenses are required for an LLC 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 transact business.
Most businesses in Illinois will need to register with a variety of government agencies. Illinois business license requirements are based on what the business does or where it is located in the state, not on the type of entity.
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.
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?
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.