It’s Saturday evening, and you’re sitting around a campfire telling your friends about this great idea you have. You’re excited, they’re excited, even your best friend’s dog is excited!
After seeing their reactions, you want to make things official. So, you spend the next few weeks brainstorming business names until you land on the perfect one. It speaks to you, it’s quirky, and there’s nothing else quite like it.
You know you want to form an LLC, but you aren’t sure how or where to start.
Does that last part sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone! Incorporating your small business sounds complicated and scary, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to the countless entity formation service providers out there.
But that in itself leads to a second problem. Which one do you choose? Is this business offering me free services… actually legit? In Incfile’s case, the answer is yes.
They’re a business entity formation service provider with an incredible free plan (plus state fees) that helps entrepreneurs like you get started quickly and painlessly. So, I went to their site and used their LLC formation service to set up a Limited Liability Company.
In this Incfile review, I cover my individual experience with Incfile, the things I like, the things I don’t like, several external user reviews, and their reputation as a company. Soon, you’ll know if Incfile is the right service for your next great idea!
Summary: High-Level Pros and Cons of Using Incfile
As I mentioned, I went through the process of forming an LLC with Incfile. After using several different service providers, I took note of the things that make Incfile unique, as well as the things I didn’t particularly enjoy.
Here’s a brief overview of my experience using their services (in case you don’t want to read the full review – I won’t judge).
What I like (AKA the good stuff):
- With the Silver plan, you only pay the state fee to form an LLC
- Lifetime phone and email customer support
- Free company name availability analysis
- Free registered agent service for one full year
- You can track your order and filing status online
- Free 1-hour tax consultation with a business tax expert
What I don’t like (AKA the not-so-good stuff):
- They charge $70 for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) on their free plan — YIKES
- Limited telephone customer support hours (9 am – 6 pm CST)
- Numerous package upgrades and add-ons through the registration process
Overall, their process is easy to use, and they have snippets throughout registration that help answer your questions along the way. They tell you why they need certain information and what they’re going to do with it, too.
But (there’s always a but), they make money by offering upsells and add-ons. While this isn’t a bad thing by any means, some of these are things you can get elsewhere for free or aren’t worth paying for and may not work for every type of small business.
Now, let’s deep dive into the Incfile platform, how to use it, and my personal experience.
Setting up an LLC with Incfile
To get started, you can either click on the red “incorporate now” button or select your business type and filing state from the dropdowns directly below the navigation menu. From there, you can decide which package you’d like to move forward with.
Their silver plan is free (+ state filing fees for the articles of organization) and is the one I chose. But they also offer a gold package for $149 and a platinum package for $299. Additionally, this page tells you how much you save by choosing a premium plan instead of choosing add-ons a la carte.
This is nice because with alternative “always free” business formation packages, you don’t have the option to bundle services and extras together to save money.
After you choose your package, you’ll start Incfile’s entity formation process. First, they ask for basic contact information, including your:
- Phone number
- Email address
- And mailing address
After you provide your information, Incfile gives you the option to upgrade your filing time from 5 business days to 1 business day for $50. I chose to go with the standard turnaround time for free.
If you opt for expedited processing (or any other add-ons during the process), the sidebar on the left updates automatically to show how much you owe.
This can also help you decide if you want to upgrade to a different pricing plan to save money by bundling services together.
Next, you need to provide information about the entity you’re forming. This includes:
- Your company name
- Business type
- The number of owners
- Business purpose
- And your business address
Because Incfile offers free business name checks, they let you know that if the name you chose isn’t available, they will contact you to request something else.
After you hit next, they offer you a premium service package for an Employer Identification Number, operating agreement, banking resolution, express shipping, and contract templates. I chose to continue without upgrading because:
- You can get an EIN for free through the Internal Revenue Service. Learn how to apply for an EIN at no cost with the IRS – it’s super easy.
- Operating agreements depend on the type of business you have. Learn more about operating agreements and if your LLC needs one.
- I don’t need express shipping or a small business bank account
- And legal documents also depend on the type of business
Although I chose not to upgrade, consider your options, and make an educated decision. These add-ons may make sense for you and your specific situation.
Next, you’ll add contact information for each member (or a company) of your LLC. I’m the sole owner, which I entered and continued on.
From there, you get to decide if you’d like Incfile to be your registered agent service for a year (for free). I agreed to use them as my registered agent (we’ll talk more about this later). Once you’re done with that, they offer numerous add-ons, including:
- An EIN number ($70) – you can get this for free
- A Bank of America business account (free) – this is a great idea if you don’t already have a small business banking account set up
- Express shipping ($25) – unless you need your documents ASAP, you probably don’t need to upgrade.
- Business tax consultation (free) – taxes can be confusing, so it’s a good idea to set this up and speak with a tax professional about staying organized and filing taxes
- Business licenses and permits ($99) – you can do this research on your own, but if you’re crunched for time or aren’t sure what you need, this might be a good option. Learn more about licenses and permits in each state.
Then, you have an opportunity to review everything before submitting and entering your payment information. Double-check to make sure everything you entered is accurate. Enter your payment information, you’re DONE!
What I Like About Incfile
As I went through Incfile’s LLC formation process, I found numerous things I liked about their services. So, I want to walk through them with you to explain why they stood out to me and the benefits they offer.
Unlike LegalZoom’s least expensive plan of $79 plus the state filing fee, IncFile’s Silver plan will only cost you the state filing fee, which we talk about below. While there are several upsells, most businesses can use this guidance to make sure their corporation or LLC is filed correctly without paying anything extra. We will talk about the upsells later in this article to decide if you want to do them yourself or pay a little extra and let IncFile handle them.
If you are interested in Incfile handling more of the formation work, they offer upgrading to premium plans and saving hundreds of dollars on value-added services you’d otherwise have to pay full price for if you were to purchase them individually. Additionally, you can choose add-ons a la carte if you don’t need everything a premium plan offers.
2. Lifetime Customer Support
Whether you placed your order yesterday or eight years ago, their support team is there to help you through the process from start to finish. They offer email and phone support during standard business hours Monday through Friday.
So, if you have general questions, in-depth questions, or need a new copy of something you filed several months ago, their team has you covered. They’re always a few clicks or a phone call away!
As a new business owner, setting up an LLC can be scary and confusing. It’s totally normal to feel uncertain and question whether you’re doing things the right way. Their team understands this and does everything they can to make things easy for you and get the job done.
3. Free Company Name Availability Analysis
There’s (almost) nothing worse than spending weeks brainstorming the perfect business name, registering your LLC, paying the state fees, and realizing afterward your name is already in use.
Incfile ensures this doesn’t happen by checking your name against other registered businesses in your state. During the signup process, they let you know they’ll contact you and work with you to resolve any conflicts or issues with your business name.
If you want to search to see if your business name is available, we show you how.
They also give you the courtesy of double-checking for spelling, so you don’t accidentally make a typo and end up paying for it later. Or notice it too late.
4. They Offer to Act as Your Registered Agent
Every LLC or corporation must have a registered agent in every state they operate in. This could be you, another member of your LLC, or a third party.
A registered agent offers their address to accept legal documents and correspondence from state and federal agencies on your behalf. This includes things like paperwork, summons, a notice of legal action, or a subpoena.
Additionally, hiring a registered agent keeps your private address away from third-parties (and the public) and limits the amount of mail you get at home. Furthermore, registered agents have to:
- Be available to accept mail during normal business hours
- Accept communications and deliver them to you
- Have a permanent physical address (not a PO box)
- Provide proof of receipt for legal correspondence
As a business owner, these requirements may not be easy to meet on your own. But, Incfile takes the burden off your shoulders by offering their own address and registered agent services to new entities for free (for one full year).
After that, you can decide if you’d like to extend these services for an extra charge.
Using Incfile as a registered agent means you won’t have to worry about missing deadlines, losing documents, or going on vacation and being unavailable to accept legal communications from the government.
Related: When is a Registered Agent Needed?
5. You Can Track Your Order and Filing Status Online
While this may seem like a no-brainer, many incorporation services don’t have a way to track your order and filing status. But, Incfile lets you track the status of all your orders in just a few clicks.
The ease of use helps remove some of the uncertainties many people have forming throughout the formation process. You can rest easy knowing exactly where you’re at and where your filing stands.
6. Free 1-Hour Tax Consultation with a Tax Professional
Starting a new business means you wear a lot of hats. There’s no doubt you have a million and two things running through your mind at any given moment with a to-do list several miles long.
And just when you thought you had everything under control, you realize you know nothing about filing taxes as a business. Hiring an accountant or trying to fumble through everything yourself can lead to costly payments or mistakes.
Image via Accion
With Incfile, you get a free 1-hour tax consultation with a tax expert (if you want one). During this time, you can ask questions, receive guidance on what to do and how to stay organized, and put your worries to rest.
A similar consultation could cost you hundreds of dollars with someone else, so this is a serious value-added service. Incfile’s tax team is available to walk you through your tax commitments and answer any questions.
Waiting until tax season to get your ducks in a row is never a good idea. So, I highly recommend taking advantage of this free service. Prepare your questions beforehand and take notes so you don’t miss anything!
What I Don’t Like About Incfile
I have to say, most of my experience with Incfile was great. But, I did find a few things I didn’t like about their process. As with every great business, they’re far from perfect, and Incfile is no different.
So, I want to walk through them and explain why the things I don’t like… aren’t so great.
1. $70 for an EIN is Expensive (Hint: You Can Get One for Free)
If you go with Incfile’s Silver Plan, they offer to get an Employer Identification Number for $70. While this does take the hassle off your hands and opens you up for other tasks, it’s EASY to do on your own for free.
You can apply for an EIN number online for FREE through the IRS. It takes less than ten minutes to do, and once you’re approved, you can save everything to your computer and print it for your records.
New business owners may not know this and may be tempted to opt for the $70 upgrade despite being able to easily do it for free.
2. They Have Limited Customer Support Hours
If you’re anything like me, the idea of working whenever you want is one of the most attractive benefits of starting your own business. You’re not limited to working standard business hours, but Incfile’s support IS limited to those hours (9 am – 6 pm CST).
While it’s not a huge problem, you can imagine the frustration of experiencing problems or having questions at 8 pm on Friday night. You have to wait until Monday for their team to start investigating your issue and get back with you.
As I mentioned, it’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it is something to note if you work odd hours outside of a normal business day.
3. Numerous Upgrades and Add-Ons During Registration
Because Incfile’s Silver package is free, they make money by offering upsells and add-ons throughout the registration process. But even with the paid pricing plans (Gold and Platinum), they offer additional paid upgrades.
Overall, this isn’t a bad thing, but some of the offers aren’t necessary or won’t work for every type of business. New small business owners may not know this and could end up spending more money than they needed to for services and extras that won’t do them any good.
With that being said, every business is unique, and your decisions should reflect that. These add-ons may make sense in your situation, so do your research and understand what they are before making any choices.
Incfile Pricing, Plans, and Add-ons
Incfile uses a tiered pricing structure that allows business owners to decide which add-ons they need without paying full price for them. On the IncFile pricing page, they show you how much you save with each tier.
*Your state fees may differ from the screenshot below.
Tier 1 — The Silver Package (Free + State Fees)
Incfile’s Silver package is free and includes the basic things you need to form and register an entity in your state. You can also choose to have Incfile act as your registered agent service for free for one year.
With this package, you can also choose add-ons before you start or as you go through registration. These add-ons and extras include:
- EIN ($70)*
- IRS form 2553 ($50)* IRS form 2553 is free from the IRS.
- Operating agreement ($40)*
- Banking resolution ($35)* Banks will usually give you a free banking resolution when opening a business bank account.
- Business contract templates ($150)
- The Gold Kit – a personalized binder ($99)* You can buy one on Amazon for only $50.
- Formation documents
- Transfer ledgers
- Personalized business name on your kit
- 20 member of stock certificates
- Expedited state filing ($50)
- Express shipping ($25)*
In all, that’s $519 in upgrades for the basic free plan.
The extras marked with an asterisk (*) are included for free in the Gold Package, and everything on this list is included for free in the Platinum Package.
Tier 2 — The Gold Package ($149 + State Fees)
Incfile’s Gold Package is $149 + state filing fees and includes everything you need to register with your state and other things that may be nice to have. You get everything in the Silver Package plus the extras marked with an asterisk (*) above plus:
- Next business day processing
- Lifetime company alerts
- Free business website
If you need everything in this package, you can save $468 instead of choosing the Silver Package plus these add-ons. So, carefully consider everything you need or have for your business when making a package decision.
I also want to point out that starting your website isn’t expensive, so I don’t see this as an added value for this package. They also note that all free websites are subject to a $20/month hosting fee. There are better website alternatives out there, and in this case, free doesn’t actually mean free.
Tier 3 — The Platinum Package ($299 + State Fees)
Incfile’s Platinum Package is $299 + state filing fees and includes everything in the Gold Package plus a few additional add-ons that may be nice to have for your business. With this package, you also get:
- Business contract templates
- A domain name and email service
- The Platinum Kit (personalized binder) – Remember, you can buy one on Amazon for only $50.
- Expedited state filing
Choosing this package allows you to save $908 instead of buying these add-ons separately and finding these services elsewhere. I also want to point out that the free domain name and email services are free for one year (with the option to pay and extend or cancel them).
Additional Incfile Services
Incfile also offers additional services beyond entity formation. They offer a full suite of startup services to help you get started and maintain your success down the road. These additional services include:
- Amendments ($99 + state fees) — This helps you change your business name, remove or add members, update your address, or change stated business activities.
- Dissolution ($149 + state fees) — This form is required if you need to close your LLC or corporation. Incfile will handle everything for you.
- Foreign qualification ($149 + state fees) — If you’re interested in doing business out of state or expanding beyond your local area, you have to follow the foreign qualification process. Note: this does not include expanding beyond the United States.
- Fictitious business name (unlisted) — This process is required if you wish to do business using a name other than your official business name. Some states don’t allow this, but Incfile can take care of everything for you. Learn more about filing a fictitious business name (sometimes called a DBA)
- Annual reporting ($88 + state fees) — LLCs and corporations have to file an annual report outlining your company’s activities. This usually means providing updated addresses for directors and managers as well as your registered agent. Paying for this service takes one more thing off your plate, but if you file with IncFile, they will provide compliance reminders and send an email when this report is due.
- Certificate of Good Standing ($44 + state fees) — This is an official document from the secretary of state confirming your entity is in good standing. You may need this to get a loan, file business taxes, or prove your company exists. Learn more about the Certificate of Good Standing.
- Business license research package ($99) — Incfile will send you a comprehensive list of all the state and federal business licenses that apply to your business. They also send you all the forms to submit, but they do not file them for you. Learn more about business licenses in each state.
- Trademark registration ($199 + state fees) — You can file a trademark to protect business assets like your name, logo, and tagline. This package includes existing trademark research, legal counsel, and a registered trademark. Learn more about the differences between trademarks, copyrights, and patents.
- Personal and business tax return filing ($299-$599) — Incfile will take the burden of filing your taxes off your hands. If you choose to have them do your personal and business return, you can save 15%.
- S-Corporation tax elections (unlisted) — This is form 2553 for the IRS. It can help reduce the amount of taxes you owe as a Limited Liability Company by reducing your taxable income. Incfile can help you file this form.
- Change of service agent ($49 + state fees) — You have to inform your state if you change your registered agent. Incfile will do all the paperwork and communication for you.
Exploring Incfile’s Industry Reputation
Incfile is a safe, trusted, and verified service provider for startups and small business owners. They were added to this year’s list of Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America from Entrepreneur Magazine and have an impressive A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
With over 250,000 customers and 16 years of service, their solid reputation in the industry is hard to ignore. They have thousands of five-star reviews across the internet, mentioning excellent customer service and overall product and pricing satisfaction.
Despite these positive marks, it’s also important to note they’ve had 28 complaints filed against them with the BBB in the last three years. But, they’ve all been answered or resolved and handled appropriately. You can see the full list of complaints.
As with any business, double and triple check your information for accuracy and completeness before paying for services or packages with Incfile to ensure you have a positive experience.
Real Incfile User Reviews from BBB and Shopper Approved
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
There are 132 IncFile customer reviews on file with the Better Business Bureau. The average review is above four-stars. You can see the full list of reviews. Take a look at what some of Incfile’s customers have to say:
“Fast, easy, and way cheaper than other sites. Plus the customer service (I’ve dealt with Mario) was very helpful and always answered quickly. I would definitely recommend to anyone who doesn’t want to deal with all the paperwork themselves…” – Jiri C (March 14, 2020)
“IncFile, LLC is absolutely the best. Deziree’ handled our request and answered all of our questions and was excellent to work with! If you are looking for help with setting up your company, look no further, you will not be disappointed!” – Randy H (January 9, 2020)
Shopper Approved IncFile Reviews
Shopper Approved is Incfile’s review platform of choice. On Shopper Approved, Incfile has 14,500+ reviews with an overall rating of 4.8 stars. This platform monitors and verifies real customers to ensure their reviews are accurate.
Take a look at what these customers have to say:
“I am very satisfied with the services I received from Incfile. My business has been using this service for 3 years, keeping me updated on all facets pertaining to the business. Easy access to my account. Overall a great asset to my business.” – Linda D. (April 2020)
“The product information is clear and orders are simple and easy to complete. Incfile.com has been a great help!” – Charne T. (June 21, 2019)
TLDR; Incfile Customer Feedback Conclusion
Incfile is a safe and trusted business formation service with over 15,000 positive online reviews. They’re especially noted for having great customer service and customer satisfaction with their products and pricing.
They’re quick to fix mistakes and consistently work to make the process as easy as possible.
Final Words on ZenBusiness’s LLC Services
Whether you want to form an LLC, non-profit, or S-Corporation, Incfile has you covered with an easy-to-use platform that helps answer your questions as you go. Their three-tier pricing model lets you bundle services to get what you need at a discounted price. Or you can choose from their list of add-ons to pay for what you need. Most people will do just fine with the free filing!
Incfile is a great resource and friend to have whether you’re a new business owner or incorporating your 537th business. They offer fair, accurate, and transparent prices with a top-notch support team ready to help.
My experience setting up an LLC was seamless, quick, and easy despite doing it on a Saturday afternoon when their customer service team was offline. So, get started incorporating your business with Incfile today.
Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
Lifetime customer support
Free registered agent in the first year
Free 1-hour tax consultation
Free plan offers a lot of value (state filing fees still apply)
Lifetime customer support
Free registered agent in the first year
Proactive customer service called to discuss next steps
No free plan, but pricing is fair and upfront
Lifetime customer support
Free registered agent in the first year
Free business name availability check