If you’re looking for a reliable DIY guide for starting an LLC in Kansas, look no further. Below you’ll find all the information you need to launch your business and handle any associated costs. Follow each step carefully and your LLC will be established and ready to hit the ground running.
That said, the process can be complex, with various filings and costs, so if at any point you need help, you can hire an online incorporation service – they’ll take care of the paperwork so you can spend more time growing your business.
Recommended: Compare the Top LLC Services
If you’re new to the process of starting an LLC, you might also be unfamiliar with the LLC formation services that are reliable and offer great value – like ZenBusiness. As a reference point we compared them to the two most well known LLC formation services, IncFile and LegalZoom. See our comparison guides for more information:
Step 1: Name Your LLC
What’s in a name? Quite a bit, actually. Your business name is your Kansas LLC’s identity, its personality, its reputation. Find a name that sticks in customers’ minds – while conveying your brand qualities – and you’ve struck gold. A unique, memorable name can draw in new customers and keep existing ones coming back.
Your LLC name is going to appear everywhere: business cards, marketing collateral, websites, legal contracts, bank accounts, invoices, directories, and much more. So be sure that it conveys your product, service, brand, and values.
While you can (and should) be creative with your business name, there are certain state requirements that it must follow.
When crafting a perfect name for your business, be aware of the state’s requirements so you won’t have it rejected. A valid LLC name must include a business type designator, like “limited liability company,” “limited company,” “L.L.C.,” “L.C.,” “LLC,” or “LC.” It must also be totally distinguishable from every other business name reserved or registered with the Secretary of State.
If your desired name is already taken, but you want to use something similar, you’ll need to find a creative way to distinguish it. However, making the following changes won’t be enough:
- Using a singular or plural version of the same word
- Exchanging numerals for spelled-out numbers
- Interchanging business type designators like LLC, Ltd., limited, or l.l.c.
- Articles (“a,” “an,” and “the”)
- The words “and,” “to,” and “with”
- Adding, removing, or changing punctuation and spacing
- Adding, removing, or changing capitalization and special characters
Instead, you will need to make substantial alterations or rearrangements to the name’s key words to successfully differentiate your name. See this page for more information.
Consider this: your friend Fanny wants to open a flower shop in Topeka, Kansas. The name she wants, Flowers by Fanny, LLC is already in use. So she comes up with a new one: Fanny’s Florals and Design, LLC. This name is similar to the original but includes new words, distinguishing it in the Secretary of State’s records.
Determine the Name is Available
Of course, you will only need to make distinguishable changes if your name is already taken. Don’t make the mistake of ordering business cards, creating advertisements, and using a name on documents like the Articles of Organization without first confirming it’s available. Use the Secretary of State’s Name Availability Search to see if there’s an existing business using your desired name.
Maybe you pegged a distinguishable name right away, or maybe it took some modifications, but either way, once you have a unique name, you can lock it down by filing a name reservation.
Optional: Name Reservation
You may have fallen in love with a particular name, but still have some preparation and paperwork to sort out before starting your LLC, and you’re worried that someone will swipe it in the meantime. To calm your nerves, you can reserve that name in Kansas for a total of 120 days.
Think about Fanny. After making her name distinguishable, she’s ready to make it official, but if she’s waiting on some paperwork to start her LLC, she can place a hold online through the Kansas Business Center or by mailing a Temporary Reservation of Business Entity Name form and $35 payment to:
Kansas Office of the Secretary of State
Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 S.W. 10th Ave.
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1594
A name reservation can come in handy when you aren’t quite ready to start your business, but it isn’t required. So, if your LLC is ready to go right away, you can save time and money by simply including your name on the Articles of Organization, which will automatically register it.
Step 2: Choose a Resident Agent
Fanny’s LLC is quickly taking shape, and if it’s going to operate in Kansas, she’ll need a go-between for state and legal communications. This is called the resident agent.
A resident agent is a key component of your budding LLC, handling all of its sensitive communication with the state so you don’t have to. But maintaining an agent isn’t just a convenience, it’s required. According to Kansas Statute 17-7925, “every covered entity shall have and maintain in this state a resident agent.” The Articles of Organization expands on the agent’s duties, stating that the agent “is a person or entity that is authorized to accept service of process (lawsuits) on behalf of the business entity. This does not necessarily mean that the agent himself/herself is being sued, but that he/she has the authority and responsibility to accept service of process on behalf of the business.”
Taxes, lawsuits, maintenance requirements, and more – the resident agent takes care of it all. If you had to do this yourself, it would pile additional tasks onto your already-full plate. Plus, your agent makes your business available to receive documents even when you’re out of town or away from the office. This is especially important if your physical office is outside Kansas.
Now for the practical application, the “how-to.” All you need to do is list your resident agent’s name and address on your Articles of Organization, and that information will become part of your LLC’s public record. Make sure that you communicate with your agent before you file and get their consent to the appointment.
You have two options for who can serve as a resident agent: an individual or a company.
Individual as Resident Agent
You may think that an individual resident agent would need specialized training or experience, but this isn’t the case. Anyone can serve as your resident agent, as long as they are a Kansas resident, have a physical address in the state, and are at least 18 years old.
Third parties like attorneys or consultants are great options, but friends and family members are valid choices as well. You can even appoint yourself, provided you meet the state’s requirements and don’t mind the added responsibilities.
Resident Agent Service
It can be a lot easier, though, to use an LLC formation service like IncFile or Northwest Registered Agent, so we highly recommend it. Not only will they take care of business formation requirements, but they’ll also include a free resident agent service. Or, if you’d rather start your Kansas LLC on your own, you can use a national resident agent service to cover your agent duties.
During the life of your LLC, you may, at some point, need to change your resident agent. Perhaps you want to switch from an individual to a professional service, or maybe your existing resident agent resigns. Either way, you’ll want to make the change as soon as possible because operating without an agent on file can lead to administrative dissolution.
Step 3: File the Formation Documents with the State
This is where the LLC formation process kicks into high gear. Let’s check back in with Fanny.
She’s reserved her unique business name, designated a resident agent, and she’s ready to get her LLC off the ground. It’s time for Fanny to take on the most important LLC document: the Articles of Organization. This filing creates a record for Fanny’s Florals and Design, LLC with the Kansas Secretary of State, giving it the authorization to commence business in the state.
When it comes time to file your Articles of Organization, you have four options: online, by mail, in person, and by fax. Choose the best option for your business, but keep in mind that each method has a different filing fee.
You can complete the entire process through the Kansas Business Center. If you don’t already have a KanAccess account, you will need to create one. This is both the quickest and cheapest way to file. It costs $160 and your form will be processed immediately.
Filing by Mail
Download, print, and complete the paper application. Mailed forms cost $165 (payable by check, money order, or credit card), so include your payment and mail your document to:
Kansas Office of the Secretary of State
Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 S.W. 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-15941
If you’re local to Topeka, you can also hand-deliver your application and payment to the same address.
Complete the form and fax it to (785) 296-4570. Faxed forms have the highest price tag, $185.
Mailed, hand-delivered, and faxed filings are slightly slower than electronic ones, typically taking 3-5 business days.
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
The operating agreement is the framework that holds up an LLC, the vital underpinning that establishes processes for its procedures, activities, and conduct. Essentially, it serves as your company’s bylaws.
Kansas LLCs are not technically required to adopt operating agreements, but this doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to go without one. By drafting an agreement, you will provide your business with efficient procedures, asset protection, and legitimacy in the eyes of courts, banks, government agencies, and more. In short, it’s vital to the success of your business, so you should think twice before skipping it.
Let’s say our friend Fanny sells a percentage of her company to two other owners. Her operating agreement could stipulate how the LLC’s assets would be distributed among them in the case of dissolution. But if she decided to maintain sole ownership, the agreement could be used in court as evidence that the LLC’s assets are separate from her personal ones. These are just two examples, but the operating agreement governs everything from member duties to the tax structure.
If you’ve decided to draft an agreement, there are two ways to go about it:
- Write it yourself. Don’t be intimidated by this option. There are plenty of free online templates that serve as helpful guides. You can create an effective document from most of the templates out there, but we recommend this one, courtesy of Northwest Registered Agent. It’s got everything you need to draft a solid agreement.
- Hire an attorney. If you want to be absolutely sure that you don’t miss any important details, an attorney can write or review the agreement for you, ensuring that it complies with state law, includes all necessary information, and avoids the state’s default laws.
What are default laws?
Each state has its own set of generic, baseline laws for how LLCs should operate. These laws, however, only govern matters not included in your operating agreement. Take dissolution, for example. If your LLC ever dissolves, your operating agreement would determine what happens to its remaining assets and debts. But if you fail to include it in the agreement, the state will make that decision for you.
Because default laws are broad and not tailored to your specific business, they often aren’t in your LLC’s best interest, so it’s best to avoid them by being as comprehensive as possible in your agreement.
Step 5: Get an EIN
There’s simply no way to avoid taxes. In fact, it’s illegal to try, so don’t do it.
Federally, LLCs are classified as “pass-through” entities, businesses that don’t file corporate tax returns, but whose owners include income and losses on their individual returns. Still, there are certain circumstances that require LLCs to pay federal taxes, like classifying as a corporation or partnership, hiring employees, or selling merchandise. So, in Fanny’s case, if she plans on hiring additional florists and selling bouquets, she will need to apply for an EIN.
The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that the IRS will use to identify your company’s tax accounts, so if you pay any business taxes, it’s extremely important to have one. Click the “Do I need an EIN?” link on this page to see if you fall into this category. If so, apply for an EIN one of three ways:
Need to get this done quick? File online – it’s by far the most efficient method. You can only complete the process between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, but you’ll receive your number immediately upon finishing the digital form. Keep in mind that you will need to provide a valid individual taxpayer number (like a Social Security Number) as part of the process.
You might prefer the feel and security of a paper form. In this case, download Form SS-4, complete it, and fax it to (855) 641-6935. You will receive your EIN within four business days.
Or, there’s always trusty postal mail. However, this is the slowest option, as processing typically takes around four weeks. If that doesn’t deter you, fill out Form SS-4 and send it to:
Internal Revenue Service Operation
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Okay, so you’ve filed the Articles of Organization, designated a resident agent, adopted an operating agreement, and filed for an EIN. Time to start doing business, right? Sorry, there are a couple of additional steps you may need to take first. But don’t worry, you’re almost there!
Step 6: Taxes, Licensing & Income Reporting
For all intents and purposes, most LLCs will be official after completing all the prior steps. Still, it’s important for business owners like Fanny to keep looking ahead, as there are certain maintenance requirements to keep a Kansas LLC running smoothly and in good standing with the state.
Before you start doing business, create a plan for the following potential LLC requirements:
As mentioned earlier, LLCs are almost always classified as “pass-through” entities, which means that they don’t pay income taxes directly to the federal government. That responsibility falls instead on the owners, who must include business income and losses on their personal 1040 tax returns and/or Schedule C. LLCs are flexible with tax structure, so you can choose to have yours taxed like a corporation instead. In this case, it would need to file a separate corporate tax return.
Fortunately for your LLC, state income taxes are much like federal ones, in that income and losses are reported on the owners’ personal returns rather than a separate corporate one (unless you’ve set your company up to be taxed like a corporation). Even better is that Kansas does not impose any “franchise” or “privilege” taxes on its LLCs, so you won’t need to worry about that either.
But don’t celebrate too early, because there are still a few business-related state taxes your LLC might owe, depending on its circumstances. Do you sell merchandise? If so, your LLC will owe Sales and Use Taxes. Do you hire employees? Then your LLC will be responsible for Withholding and Unemployment Taxes.
You can register for the Sales, Use, and Withholding Taxes by submitting a Kansas Business Tax Application online or with a paper application. And you can register for the Unemployment Tax through the Department of Labor.
Plus, depending on your LLC’s location, it may owe a local tax to its city, municipality, or county. Consult your local government’s website to find out.
The Articles of Organization may have already made your business legitimate, but your LLC might still need to obtain a license before doing business. This all depends, however, on the type of business you run.
Our friend Fanny, for example, would need to obtain a Floral Shop License through the Department of Agriculture before opening the doors of her flower shop. And if she wanted to sell sandwiches to her customers, she would also need a Food Service License. You can find out if your LLC needs any licenses by looking through Kansas’ comprehensive list of business licenses.
Certain cities and counties require their own specific licenses on top of any state ones, so you should also check with your local government.
Once you’ve taken all the steps to start your LLC, you’ll be off and running, making deals and growing the company. But when things are moving 100 miles per hour, don’t forget that Kansas requires all of its businesses to submit one important recurring filing: the Annual Report.
Each year, your LLC is responsible for filing an Annual Report by The 15th day of the 4th month after the end of its fiscal year (typically April 15). Online submissions are $50 and hard copy filings are $55.
You will need to file your Annual Report and your Kansas tax return simultaneously. It will be processed immediately if you file online and in 3-5 business days for hard copies. Mark your due date on your calendar and set a reminder on your phone, because you don’t want to miss a report. There’s no late fee, but if you don’t file within 90 days of your due date, your LLC will be administratively dissolved.
And we’ve come to the end. It’s a long process, and not always easy, but the reward is well worth it. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Your Kansas LLC is ready for takeoff. So go ahead and start with that big sale, promotional campaign, or business deal. Maybe you’ll see Fanny out there in the business world, selling her beautiful floral creations.
Need Help Creating Your LLC?
If you even skimmed this guide to look over the steps, you likely got a sense of how many moving parts there are when starting an LLC. Can you do it all yourself? Absolutely. We have complete confidence in you.
But if you’d rather hand it off to someone else and not have to worry about it again, we recommend using an LLC formation service. This way, you can go about your other business responsibilities with the confidence that everything will be submitted correctly and punctually.
Plus, an LLC formation service can handle maintenance items like Annual Reports, so you can take them off your to-do list. And on top of that, many services also provide a resident agent.
Sound good? Whether you know that you’ll need an LLC service or you’re just exploring your options, take a look at IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent. These are two of the top services available. And you can take our word for it because we’ve done a whole lot of research on the topic.