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How to Start an LLC in Maryland?

How to Start an LLC in Maryland
(Last Updated On: April 19, 2024)

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Embarking on the journey of starting your own Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Maryland opens the door to a world of entrepreneurial possibilities, and the process is more accessible than you might think. 

In this guide, we’ll navigate the exciting steps together, demystifying the path to LLC formation as outlined by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). From crafting a unique business name to selecting a registered agent and ensuring compliance with state regulations, we’ll break down the essential elements that empower you to create a business that not only shields your personal assets but also offers the operational freedom and tax advantages that make Maryland an ideal choice for your entrepreneurial aspirations. 

Get ready to turn your business dreams into a reality!

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How to Start an LLC in Maryland: Step-By-Step Guide

To establish a Maryland LLC, you must submit the Articles of Organization to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, incurring a $100 fee. You can apply through online, mail, or in-person methods.

Initiate the process today by following the detailed instructions in our How to Start an LLC in Maryland guide:

  1. Choose a Name for Your Maryland LLC
  2. Designate a Resident Agent in Maryland
  3. Submit Maryland Articles of Organization
  4. Create an Operating Agreement
  5. Obtain a Maryland LLC EIN
  6. Acquire a Business License and Permits
  7. Maryland LLC Tax Filing Obligations
  8. Explore Insurance Choices in Maryland
  9. Understand Financial Considerations
  10. Market Your Business

Alternatively, you can simplify the LLC formation process by utilizing professional services such as ZenBusiness, Swyft Filing, or Tailor Brands.

Step 1: Choose a Name for Your Maryland LLC

Selecting a business name is the initial and crucial phase in establishing an LLC in Maryland. Opting for a name that adheres to Maryland’s naming criteria and is easily discoverable by potential clients is imperative.

Adhere to the Naming Guidelines:

  • Your chosen name must incorporate the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
  • Avoid including words that could cause confusion between your LLC and a government agency (e.g., FBI, Treasury, State Department).
  • Note that certain restricted words (e.g., Bank, Attorney, University) may necessitate additional documentation and the inclusion of a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, in your LLC.
  • Ensure that your chosen name is distinct from any other existing Maryland limited liability company, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, or corporation.

Verify name availability in Maryland by conducting a Business Entity Search through Maryland Business Express. Also, check the availability of a corresponding URL. It’s advisable to confirm whether your chosen business name is obtainable as a web domain. Even if you don’t currently have plans for a business website, securing a matching web domain may be beneficial.

>> Choose Your Maryland LLC Name With ZenBusiness >>

Step 2: Designate a Resident Agent in Maryland

For your LLC in Maryland, appointing a resident agent, commonly referred to as a registered agent in other states, is mandatory.

What does a resident agent do? A resident agent, also known as a registered agent in other jurisdictions, is an individual or business entity tasked with receiving crucial tax forms, legal documents, notifications of lawsuits, and official government communications on behalf of your business. Consider the resident agent as the primary point of contact between your business and the state.

Who qualifies as a resident agent? According to Maryland regulations, a resident agent must be a Maryland resident or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to conduct business in Maryland. You can choose an individual within the company, including yourself, to serve as the resident agent.

>> Designate Your Registered Agent With ZenBusiness Today >>

Step 3: Submit Maryland Articles of Organization

To formally establish your Maryland LLC, you must submit the Articles of Organization to the state, incurring a fee of $100. Locate the requisite form on the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website.

Mailing Address for Submission:

Department of Assessments and Taxation

301 W. Preston St.

Baltimore, MD 21201

>> File Your Articles of Organization With ZenBusiness Now >>

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

While Maryland doesn’t mandate LLCs to possess an operating agreement, many choose to develop one voluntarily to safeguard individual interests. Additionally, some states permit LLCs to submit a copy of their operating agreements to a governmental agency.

An operating agreement serves as a legal document collectively accepted by all LLC partners, essentially acting as the constitution for your LLC. It outlines the business’s ownership structure, defines its operational parameters, and establishes voting protocols necessitating the approval of managing members (and occasionally non-managing members). 

Decision-making processes requiring a managing member vote may include incurring debt, admitting new partners, hiring personnel, or undertaking the sale or dissolution of the business.

>> Create Your LLC Operating Agreement With ZenBusiness Today >>

Step 5: Obtain a Maryland LLC EIN

Secure an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS at no cost. The EIN serves to identify a business entity and facilitates tracking of the business’s tax reporting—essentially functioning as a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.

Why is an EIN necessary? An EIN is essential for the following purposes:

  • Opening a business bank account for the company
  • Fulfilling federal and state tax requirements
  • Hiring employees for the company

Where can I acquire an EIN? Business owners can obtain an EIN from the IRS, free of charge, after the company’s formation. This can be accomplished through online or mail methods.

FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: It’s important to note that an SSN isn’t required to obtain an EIN.

Correspondence to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: (855) 641-6935

Charge: No fee

>> Secure Your EIN With ZenBusiness >>

Step 6: Acquire a Business License and Permits

Certain LLCs in Maryland must secure a business license or permit before commencing legal operations. The state government of Maryland has introduced the OneStop Portal, an online platform, to streamline and centralize the process for obtaining licenses and permits necessary for your business in the state.

Step 7: Maryland LLC Tax Filing Obligations

Depending on your business type, you may need to enroll for various tax categories:

Sales Tax

Obtaining a seller’s permit through the Comptroller of Maryland website is typically necessary for those selling physical products.

Maryland’s primary state sales tax is 6%, with no additional county or city sales taxes.

Employer Taxes

When hiring employees, registration for the Unemployment Insurance Tax and Employee Withholding Tax with the Comptroller of Maryland is essential.

Income Tax

State:

Your LLC’s income determines your individual income tax rate in Maryland, ranging from 2% to 5.75%.

State tax returns are due annually by April 18. For tax calculations or to identify your tax bracket, refer to the Comptroller of Maryland.

Federal:

Federal income tax reporting is required using either Form 1065 (multi-member LLC) or Form 1040 Schedule C (single-member LLC).

Employee Hiring

Adherence to legal requirements is crucial for those planning to hire employees in Maryland. Follow these steps:

  • Confirm new employees’ eligibility to work in the US
  • Report employees as “new hires” to the state
  • Provide workers’ compensation insurance
  • Withhold employee taxes
  • Display workplace compliance posters visibly in your workspace

>> Simplify Your License and Tax Needs With ZenBusiness >>

Step 8: Explore Insurance Choices in Maryland

Maryland offers a Business Owner’s Guide to Commercial Insurance, a valuable resource assisting LLCs in determining their required business insurance. This guide encompasses various categories, such as liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and health insurance for small business employees. The Maryland Insurance Administration also offers resources tailored for LLCs entering the business insurance market.

Examples of insurance options in Maryland include:

  • Workers’ compensation insurance: Mandatory for all Maryland employers, this insurance covers employees in case of workplace injuries.
  • Commercial general liability insurance (CGL): Safeguarding businesses from financial claims related to bodily injury, property damage, slander, libel, and misleading advertising.
  • Commercial automobile insurance: All vehicles in Maryland, whether for commercial or personal use, must be covered under an automobile insurance policy.

Apart from meeting state mandates, small business proprietors often opt for supplementary policies to limit liability in unforeseen circumstances. The necessity for such policies hinges on your company’s financial standing and exposure to risk.

>> Explore Comprehensive Business Insurance With ZenBusiness in Maryland >>

Step 9: Understand Financial Considerations

Initiating a business involves setting up financial foundations, starting with establishing a business bank account. Additionally, securing payment processing services is crucial for managing customer transactions.

Exploring potential funding sources, grants, and tax advantages is advisable. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can be a valuable resource in this regard, with physical branches available, including one in downtown Baltimore for Maryland residents. 

If you’re considering financing the initial phase of your LLC through small business loans, there are avenues to secure the necessary startup capital to launch your business successfully.

Step 10: Market Your Business

Initiating business marketing involves the foundational step of constructing a brand. Develop a comprehensive small business marketing strategy incorporating elements such as logos, color schemes, fonts, slogans or taglines, and perspectives to educate prospective customers about your business. After establishing your identity, delve into diverse methods to market your business, including:

  • Awareness content (articles, blog posts, videos, newsletters)
  • Conventional TV and radio advertisements
  • Pay-per-click web advertisements
  • Social media and influencer campaigns
  • Collaborations and partnerships
  • Eye-catching store displays

>> Market Your Maryland LLC With ZenBusiness >>

How to Start an LLC in Maryland – Buyer’s Guide

What Is the Concept of an LLC?

An LLC, or limited liability company, functions as a business entity overseen by one or more proprietors or members. These individuals have authority over the company’s activities without the presence of a corporate board of directors. A business with only one member is categorized as a single-member LLC, while those with multiple members are termed multi-member LLCs.

Is an LLC the Right Choice for You?

For numerous small business proprietors in Maryland, selecting a limited liability company (LLC) represents a desirable compromise between the simplicity of a sole proprietorship, which is limited in scope, and the complexity of a corporation. LLCs are favored by small and medium-sized business owners seeking to circumvent:

  • The dual taxation associated with corporations: The LLC structure eliminates the issue of double taxation, where business income incurs personal and business taxes—a crucial consideration for corporations.
  • The personal liability risks linked to sole proprietorships: By adopting an LLC structure, individuals safeguard themselves from personal liability in case of a legal claim against the company. Additionally, profits and losses are passed through to individual co-owners.

In the case of multiple owners, an LLC allows the establishment of various membership classes, such as managing members responsible for day-to-day operations and non-managing members who share ownership without direct involvement in daily affairs. The number of co-owners in an LLC is unlimited. While multi-owner companies can also form partnerships, these arrangements offer fewer protections and tax advantages. Unlike LLCs, partnerships don’t shield owners from business-related liabilities and lack the tax flexibility available to LLCs, such as allowing Maryland LLCs to be taxed similarly to corporations.

What Are the Costs of Starting an LLC in Maryland?

The costs involved in establishing an LLC in Maryland are relatively clear-cut. Below is a summary of the costs in the process of creating an LLC in Maryland:

>> Choose the Right Business Structure With ZenBusiness Today >>

LLC Formation Service in Maryland

Online services for Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) present a cost-effective and convenient choice for startups. These services present various pricing packages, enabling businesses to customize the formation process according to their individual requirements. Some of the attributes they provide encompass:

  • An easily navigable dashboard for the storage and retrieval of essential documents
  • Registered agent services, removing the necessity to locate one independently
  • Aid in the application process for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Live expert support throughout the information input phase
  • Services for tax preparation and advisory purposes

Here, we spotlight some of the most commonly utilized LLC formation services:

ZenBusiness

Zenbusiness logo

ZenBusiness is an online service for LLC formation that caters to entrepreneurs and small business owners, providing them with a suite of tools to kickstart and expand their companies. They offer cost-effective and all-encompassing LLC formation packages, encompassing services like registered agent assistance and annual report filing. 

ZenBusiness extends ongoing support and valuable resources to assist businesses in maintaining compliance and achieving success.

>> Try Out ZenBusiness >>

Swyft Filings

Swyft Filings is a dedicated service for Limited Liability Company (LLC) formation, recognized for its efficiency and straightforwardness in the process of creating an LLC. They provide extensive services related to LLCs, covering everything from incorporation to compliance and support for registered agents. Swyft Filings offers tailored guidance to assist businesses in maneuvering through the complexities of LLC formation and ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations.

>> Start Using Swyft Filings >>

Tailor Brands

In contrast, Tailor Brands is an online service specializing in branding and design intended to assist businesses in developing a refined and cohesive brand identity. They provide a range of branding packages, including services like logo design, business card creation, and social media branding. Tailor Brands provides businesses with design tools and resources, enabling them to create and customize their branded assets according to their specific requirements.

>> Try Tailor Brands Now >>

How to Start an LLC in Maryland – FAQs

How Do I Register a Foreign LLC in Maryland?

Perhaps you’re not focused on initiating an LLC in Maryland from the ground up but are instead interested in registering a “foreign” LLC, one formed in another state, to conduct business in Maryland. In such a case, you’ll need to follow two main steps:

Submit a registration form for a foreign limited liability company in Maryland.

Furnish Maryland authorities with documented evidence of your company’s existence from its home state.

Insider Tip: Typically, certification of existence is demonstrated by providing the equivalent of a status certificate from your home state.

How Can I Correct LLC Registration Filing Errors?

In the event that you identify errors in your Maryland LLC registration documents, there’s no need to worry. You can rectify the situation by submitting articles of amendment and the required filing fee to the state. To prevent incurring an extra expediting charge typically applied to electronic submissions, sending your amendment via postal mail to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation is advisable.

Insider Tip: The state favors typed or electronically filed articles of amendment. Handwritten adjustments are more likely to face rejection upon submission.

Read More:  Cost to start an LLC

Is an LLC Service Necessary?

All tasks performed by an LLC service can be undertaken independently by a business owner, eliminating the need for service fees (though state or other entity filing fees are still applicable, and additional costs may arise, they’re likely to be less than engaging someone else and covering those fees). 

While LLC services can benefit those who prefer not to handle the filing process themselves and may offer access to additional legal services, a business owner can manage these tasks individually. 

Alternatively, a local business lawyer can handle the LLC formation process at a potentially higher cost than an online service. Opting for a lawyer may be preferred for those seeking a personal relationship with someone capable of addressing various legal inquiries and concerns.

>> Check Out ZenBusiness Now >>