Free Guide to Start an LLC in Louisiana
Starting a business in Louisiana can be an exciting time. Before selling your product or service though, the nuts and bolts of licenses, registrations, and taxes must be completed.
The guide below will show you the DIY process of forming an LLC in Louisiana. However, you can also use an online LLC service handle the paperwork for you. We reviewed and ranked the 7 best available.
The Top 2 Worth Considering:
- Northwest Registered Agent is a great option if you are looking for premium customer support.
- IncFile is ideal if you are looking for the best pricing with excellent features.
Step 1: Name Your LLC
Selecting a name for your Louisiana LLC is a first step, yet a very important one. A name that is unique and easy to remember is helpful in finding potential clients or retaining customers.
The name should indicate the product or service. It should also follow guidelines set forth by the state of Louisiana.
The name of an LLC will likely appear on business cards and stationary, marketing materials, a website, legal contracts, business bank accounts, invoices and/or a building directory.
Louisiana law requires that the business name includes the words/abbreviations, “Limited Liability Company,” “L.C.” or “L.L.C.” It must be different than other names already registered. Use the following guidelines when creating a “distinguishable” name.
- The name cannot contain the phrase “doing business as” or the abbreviation “d/b/a.”
- Names with the same words but different spelling are not considered distinguishable.
- The name cannot imply an association with a government agency or nonprofit organization.
- The name of a revoked LLC is not available for three years following the revocation.
Let’s imagine that someone is considering opening a flower shop in Baton Rouge. The name she is considering, Flowers by Fanny, L.L.C. is already in use. Instead, she decides to legally name her business Fanny’s Florals and Design, L.L.C.
Determine the Name is Available
Following the selection of a name but before filing the Articles of Organization, check to ensure that your name is unique. A preliminary check may be made by phone at (225)925-4704, by fax to (225)932-5314, or by mail to P.O. Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804. Searching in other places, such as online, is also a good idea.
After you have determined that your chosen name is “distinguishable,” the name can be reserved in order that you have exclusive rights for 60 days.
Optional: Name Reservation
Sometimes a situation may arise where an individual wants a particular name but needs time to organize his/her company before filing paperwork to create an LLC. In this case, a name can be reserved for 60 days in the state of Louisiana. The filing fee is $25. The option to extend the reservation for two additional 30-day periods is also available, free of cost. The extensions must be requested in writing before the expiration of the current reservation period.
Use one of the following methods to reserve a name:
In order to file for the reservation online, you will need to first set up an account with geauxBIZ.
Send the completed application and payment to the following address:
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
Access the application above and deliver it to this address:
8585 Archives Ave.
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Completed applications can be faxed to (225) 932-5314.
Processing time is three to five days if filing a hard copy or 24 to 48 hours if filing online.
Two options for expedited processing are available. If delivering the document in person, the application can be processed while you wait for a $50 priority expedite fee. The application can also be processed in 24 hours, either by mail or drop off, for a $30 expedite fee.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent
Every LLC in Louisiana is required to have a registered agent. This agent can be an individual or a company.
The role of the registered agent is that of a contact person between the LLC and the state. As stated on the Louisiana Department of Revenue website, the registered agent “is necessary to receive service of process on lawsuits.”
Simply put, the registered agent receives communications or documents from the state involving such things as taxes or lawsuits and communicates them to the LLC.
Some may wonder why a Louisiana registered agent is necessary. The importance of the agent is to ensure that someone is always available to receive important documents even if the business owner leaves the office, goes on vacation, or is otherwise away. Also, having a registered agent is especially important if a physical office does not exist in Louisiana.
The owner of the LLC can designate a registered agent on the Initial Report which must be submitted with an LLC’s Articles of Organization application.
Individual as Registered Agent
Most importantly, the individual must be a resident of the state of Louisiana. An LLC cannot act as its own registered agent. However, a member or manager of the LLC can act as the agent. Still, using a third party ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. The third party can be an accountant, an attorney, or even a friend. The agent must have a physical and mailing address in Louisiana.
Registered Agent Service
If using a service, the registered agent must be a business or professional. We recommend either using an LLC formation service (like Incfile or Northwest Registered Agent) which gives you a free registered agent or ordering a registered agent service by yourself if you choose to DIY your Alaska LLC formation.
Step 3: File the Formation Documents with State
Let’s assume that fictional Fanny has selected both the name for her LLC and the registered agent. She is ready to complete the paperwork (called the Articles of Organization) that actually creates Fanny’s Florals and Design, L.L.C. in Louisiana.
This step can be completed either online, through the mail, or by delivering in person. The filing cost is $100. When you are ready, it is important to note a few details about each method to ensure that your application is fully completed in the time frame in which you need it.
In order to complete an online application, you may need to first set up an account on geauxBIZ, the one-stop place to file necessary formation documents.
Some parishes are now required to file documents online. As stated on the website of the Secretary of State: “Effective January 1, 2018, business owners in the following parishes will be required to file all available business documents online through geauxBIZ: Ascension, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Livingston, Orleans, Ouachita, Rapides, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Terrebonne.”
Hard Copy Filing
If you live in a county in which online filing is not required, an Articles of Organization application and payment can be sent to the following address:
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
The application and payment can also be delivered in person to this address:
8585 Archives Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
It can also be faxed: (225)932-5314.
Note that both the Articles of Organization and the initial report need to be notarized. Regular processing time is three to five business days if filing a hard copy or 24 to 48 hours if filing online.
Like the name reservation, two options for expedited processing are available. If delivering the document in person, the application can be processed while you wait for a $50 priority expedite fee. The application can also be processed within 24 hours, either by mail or drop off, for a $30 expedite fee.
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
An operating agreement in the state of Louisiana is recommended though not required. The agreement is a contract that defines the operations of the LLC, includes terms and conditions, states the responsibilities of its members, and ensures legal protections of its members.
All owners of the LLC must be in agreement of the terms in the agreement and sign before a notary public.
The operating agreement is useful for both multi-member and single-owner LLCs. In both cases, the agreement provides protections.
For example, in the case of the multi-owner LLC, the terms can stipulate what should happen if a death or divorce occurs among one of its members. In the case of the single-owner LLC, the agreement could be used in court as evidence that the LLC is separate from the individual owner.
The operating agreement can be created in two ways. Some individuals may choose to write the agreement on their own, using an online template. In this case, forms are available that are specific to state. Be sure to use the correct multi-member or single-member form.
The alternative is hiring an attorney to create the document. The benefits of using an attorney are ensuring the document doesn’t exclude any important information, adheres to state law, and invalidates default provisions that may not be what you wish.
Step 5: Get an EIN
An EIN is an Employer Identification Number. Anyone who runs their business as a corporation or partnership must file for this 9-digit number in order to identify the tax accounts of a business. The number can be applied for in one of the following three ways:
Applying online is the quickest method. The process can be completed between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. When the form is completed, the information will be immediately validated and a number issued while you are still online. In order to apply online, a valid individual taxpayer number, such as a Social Security number, is required.
Form SS-4 can be downloaded, completed and faxed to 855-641-6935, twenty-four hours, seven days per week. The EIN will be provided within four business days.
If either of the above methods are unavailable, Form SS-4 can be mailed, though processing will take approximately four weeks. The form can be mailed to the following address:
Internal Revenue Service Operation
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Think you’re ready to open up shop now? Guess again!
Step 6: Taxes, Licensing & Income Reporting
Businesses like Fanny’s Florals, LLC may be official after completing the above steps, but it is important not to overlook a few critical details.
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.
Similarly, most LLCs will pay state tax on pass-through income via their personal income tax returns. The exception is if an election is made to tax the LLC as a corporation.
Unlike some states, Louisiana does not require LLCs to pay a franchise or privilege tax.
If your LLC has employees, you will need to pay a withholding and unemployment tax. Businesses that sell merchandise will need to pay a sales or use tax.
In order to register your LLC to pay these required taxes, registration with the Department of Revenue is necessary. Visit the Louisiana Taxpayer Access Point (LATap) on the website of the Department of Revenue in order to register your business.
Finally, an LLC may need to file and pay a local tax to a city, municipality, or county.
In some cases, a professional or occupational license is needed before a business can begin operations. In order to determine whether a license is required of your LLC, visit the Louisiana.gov licensing page. Requirements and fees vary according to the license.
Though approval for licenses and permits may come from a variety of different agencies, geauxBIZ is the conduit for all licensing procedures.
Additional licenses or permits may also be required of the local municipality or parish where your LLC is located.
After an LLC is formed, an annual report must be filed each year on or before the anniversary date of the LLC’s filing. Email notices or alerts through your geauxBIZ account will be sent a month before the annual report is due. The cost of filing is $30, and annual reports are required to be filed online.
For help completing an online annual report, watch the following short video: https://static.sos.la.gov/GeauxBiz/Video/Maintain_160214.mp4.
When all of the mechanics of setting up an LLC in Louisiana have been completed, someone like Fanny can get down to the business of setting up a website, creating a logo…or purchasing flowers!
Need Help Creating Your LLC?
We recommend LLC formation services because it allows you to knock off an important thing off your checklist so you can focus all your energy on actually starting a business.
Can you do it yourself? Absolutely.
However, a service that forms an LLC for you will help with ongoing maintenance and keep you notified of any requirements you should adhere to.
As we mentioned earlier, IncFile and Northwest Registered Agent are the top LLC services available. If you’re not familiar with them, as a point-of-reference many of our readers like to compare them to the most well known LLC service, LegalZoom.