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How to File California LLC Articles of Organization

A lot goes into the conception and planning of a new business. It’s the California Articles of Organization that make the LLC official. Being prepared before sitting down to complete the application will help you finish it efficiently.

First, have all of the required information handy. You will be asked for the following information:

  • Name of the California LLC
  • The purpose for which it is being organized
  • An indication whether the LLC will have one manager or more than one manager
  • The name and address of the agent for service of process
  • A signature(s) of the person(s) forming the LLC

Second, the cost of filing the Articles of Organization in California is $70, so have a credit card or check ready to go.

Finally, processing times vary. Check the updated processing times on the website of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will return a copy of the filed document and will certify the copy upon request for a $5 fee at the time the articles of organization application is submitted.

 

Filing Options

When filing the Articles of Organization, use one of the three methods below. Note that for security reasons emailed applications are not accepted.

Online

In order to complete an online application, the fee needs to be paid by credit card.

Mail

For a hardcopy of the application, click here. The application, including a recommended mail submission cover letter, and a check or money order (payable to the California Secretary of State) can be mailed to the following address:

Secretary of State

Business Entities Filing

P.O. Box 944228

Sacramento, CA 94244-2280

In Person

For a hard copy, click on the link above. Articles can be filed in the following location:

Secretary of State

1500 11th St.

Sacramento, CA 95814

The Secretary of State does maintain a Los Angeles office and offers limited services for business entities. Contact the office before delivering an application:

300 South Spring Street, Room 12513

Los Angeles, CA 90013

(213) 897-3062

An option for expedited service is also available when delivering in person.

Counter Drop Off – For a $15 non-refundable fee, an application delivered in person will be given priority over applications that are received in the mail.

Guaranteed Expedite Drop Off – If time is of the essence, an application can be dropped off and processed in several guaranteed time frames.

  • $350 for a 24-hour guarantee
  • $500 for a 4-hour guarantee
  • $750 for Same-day guarantee

To use the Guaranteed Expedite Drop Off, the document needs to first be precleared, or determined if it conforms to law. For more information, visit the Preclearance and Expedited Filing page of the California Secretary of State website.

 

Want Help Filing Your California Articles of Organization?

If you decide to use your time building your business rather than completing paperwork, but don’t want to spend the money on an attorney, an LLC formation company is a great compromise.

Lots of services are out there but do vary in perks offered, processing times (theirs, not the state’s), and price.

In general, a service will collect and review your information, prepare the documents, and send them to the California Secretary of State. They will contact you when the articles of organization have been filed.

One additional benefit offered by some services is a free year of agent for service of process assistance. Others offer order tracking or notifications of future legal requirements needed with the state.

After reviewing all the top online incorporation services, we found IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent the best overall options. While neither of them have as high brand power as the industry giant, LegalZoom, both services have great customer support, prices and offer a free registered agent.

 

(Post Formation Checklist) After LLC Formation

After you have filed the formation documents with the state, it’s important not to overlook a few critical details.

Taxes

On the federal level, most LLCs do not pay taxes directly to the government. Instead, they report income and losses on the owner’s personal 1040 tax returns. Schedule C is often used for reporting. Unless the LLC chooses to be taxed as a corporation, a single-member LLC is taxed as a Sole Proprietorship and a multi-member LLC is taxed as a Partnership.

On the state level, unless electing to be treated as a corporation, an LLC needs to complete Form 3522 and pay an annual franchise tax. The tax is $800 plus an additional fee ($900-$11,790) if the LLC’s income is equal to or greater than $250,000.

If electing to be treated as a corporation, the LLC must file Form 100, 100S, or 100W. Some LLCs also need to file Form 568. Tax payments are due by the 15th day of the 4th month after the beginning of the taxable year. Late payments will result in penalties plus interest. For more information on the franchise tax, visit the Franchise Tax Board website.

Additional taxes that may be required for your LLC are state employer and unemployment insurance taxes (if your LLC has employees) and a sales tax (if selling merchandise).

Licensing

Some businesses are required to be licensed before Articles of Organization can be filed. Licensing requirements can be found at the the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development website.

Reporting

After an LLC is formed, an Initial Statement of Information must be filed with the state of California within 90 days of filing the Articles of Organization. A Biennial Statement of Information must be filed every other year by the end of the anniversary month that the Articles of Organization were filed. The cost of filing this report is $20. These reports can be filed online, by sending a hard copy through the mail or delivering in person.

Mailing Address:

Secretary of State

Statement of Information Unit

P.O. Box 944230

Sacramento, CA 94244-2300

 

Drop Off Address:

California Secretary of State

1500 11th Street

Sacramento, CA 95814