How to Convert Your LLC to a Corporation in California?

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: March 29, 2024
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Converting your LLC to a California Corporation is not as complicated as it seems, but there are some things you need to know about how this type of conversion works.

As an experienced business consultant with a deep understanding of corporate structures, I have dedicated substantial time to researching the intricacies of this process.

After extensive research and consultation with legal experts in California, this comprehensive guide provides valuable insights on converting your LLC to a corporation.

This article will take you through the process step-by-step so your business entity can run more smoothly and avoid confusion regarding the conversion's legality.

Quick Summary

  • Converting an LLC to a corporation in California requires filing necessary documents, understanding tax implications, and fulfilling additional legal requirements.
  • Business owners can choose from statutory conversion, merger, or nonstatutory conversion, each with distinct processes and requirements.
  • Amidst California's tough tax climate, as shown by its 48th rank in 2024 and home to 4.15 million small businesses in 2023, converting an LLC to an S Corp is a strategic move for favorable tax treatment and corporate governance.
  • In my opinion, the conversion offers benefits like enhanced liability protection and easier capital access. It involves steps like name registration and eligibility verification for S Corporation status.

How Can An LLC Be Converted To An S Corporation In California?

An LLC can be converted to an S Corporation in California by filing Form 2553, provided the entity meets eligibility criteria.

For a successful conversion, we recommend using the following steps:

  1. Choose a corporate name and file a corporate name registration with the Secretary of State.
  2. Prepare a conversion certificate containing the LLC's name, its principal place of business, and an agreement from each member agreeing to the conversion.
  3. Prepare the entity's form of organization (for example, "a California stock corporation").
  4. Ensure your LLC is eligible for S Corporation status by meeting certain requirements outlined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the state of California.
  5. File Form 2553 with the IRS within the specified time frame, typically within 75 days of forming your LLC or the beginning of the tax year in which you want the S Corporation status to take effect [1].
  6. Obtain a California S Corporation election form (FTB 3556) and submit it to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) to request S Corporation status at the state level [2].
  7. Pay attention to additional filing requirements and potential fees, such as the California minimum franchise tax, which may still apply to an S Corporation.
  8. Remember that converting to an S Corporation may affect your tax obligations, ownership structure, and reporting requirements, so seeking professional advice from a qualified attorney or tax advisor is advisable.

Facing a challenging tax environment, evidenced by California's 48th rank on the 2024 State Business Tax Climate Index and its 4.15 million small businesses in 2023, entities are finding strategic tax planning crucial.

The conversion of an LLC to an S Corporation, which adopts a pass-through taxation model, is a strategic move to navigate this landscape.

This transition not only offers a more favorable tax treatment but also changes the entity's structure from member-managed to a corporate governance model, with former LLC members becoming shareholders in the S Corporation.

We recommend seeking professional guidance to ensure compliance and make informed decisions specific to your business situation.

Why Convert a California LLC to a Corporation?

Documents to convert llc to a corporation in california

You can convert a California LLC to a corporation to gain the liability protection of a corporation.

This option is increasingly popular, evidenced by 2021's record-high formation of over 441,000 new LLCs and Corporations in California, despite an average Corp formation growth of just 5% YoY over the last decade.

Other reasons you may want to convert your LLC include the following:

  • To make it easier to raise money from investors.
  • To have a more professional appearance for customers and vendors.
  • To make it easier to transfer ownership of the LLC.
  • Avoid filing multiple tax returns (one for the LLC and one for the corporation).
  • To take advantage of certain tax benefits that are only available to corporations.
  • To protect your business from lawsuits.
  • To give your company a longer life span.
  • To make it easier to manage your company's growth.
  • To establish a separate legal entity for your company.

If you agree to any of the reasons above, it might be time to convert your LLC to a corporation.

"Converting an LLC to a corporation in California involves careful consideration of legal and tax implications. It's a strategic decision that can offer enhanced growth potential and investment opportunities."

- Delina Yasmeh, J.D./Tax LL.M, Distinguished Expert in Mergers & Acquisitions

3 Different Ways to Convert an LLC to a Corporation

Different documents about converting an LLC to a corporation

As a business owner, you have three options when converting your California LLC to a corporation.

1. Statutory Conversion

Drawing from our experience, this is the most common way to convert an LLC to a corporation, and it's also the simplest.

With statutory conversion, the California LLC becomes a corporation without merging with or taking over other businesses. This option is available to all businesses in California.

2. Merger

For your limited liability company to merge with a new corporation, the business entity must be dissolved, and all its assets and liabilities must be transferred to the corporation.

This option is only available to California LLCs with a multi-member structure and not a single-member LLC structure in California.

3. Nonstatutory Conversion

This is the most complex way to convert an LLC to a corporation and the least common. With a nonstatutory conversion, the LLC becomes a corporation by taking over another business.

This option is only available to California LLCs with more than one member, and the other business must be willing to merge with the LLC.

To ensure your conversion is successful, we advise seeking legal advice from an attorney specializing in California law before filing any necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State.

California Tax Requirements for Converting an LLC to a Corporation

As a business owner, you must consider the tax implications of conversion.

You must file new articles of incorporation with the California Franchise Tax Board and Internal Revenue Service once your limited liability company has been officially converted to a corporation to change your tax status.

From our experience, this document will outline the new corporate tax information for your company. You may also be subject to other taxes, depending on the size of your company and how it operates.

Converting your limited liability company to a California corporation can simplify some aspects of running your business, especially regarding taxes and liability issues.

Additional Steps To Complete Conversion

Stack of files on top of a table

Once we filed our articles of incorporation and paid the necessary tax fees with the California Franchise Tax Board, there were the additional steps we completed before our company was officially converted:

1. File a Statement of Information: This document must be filed to the Califonia Secretary of State's office within 90 days after filing your articles of incorporation, and it provides information about your corporation to the public.

2. File an Article of Incorporation: Which includes a declaration of conversion, must be filed with the California Secretary of State. This article must comply with the provisions outlined in the California Corporations Code. Only domestic and foreign LLCs are covered by this legislation.

3. Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN): If you don't already have one, you must apply for an EIN when your corporation is formed to open an LLC bank accounts and file LLC tax returns.

4. Notify your customers and suppliers of your new corporation: Once your company is officially converted, you must notify any customers or suppliers who do business with you of your new corporate status.

5. Update your branding and marketing materials to reflect your new company name and logo.

Related Articles:


Can You Convert California Limited Liability Company to a C-Corporation California?

You can convert your LLC to a C-Corporation in California. The process involves filing certain documents and meeting specific requirements set by the state. It is advisable to consult with legal and tax professionals for guidance and assistance throughout the conversion process.

Can a California LLC Convert to Another Business or Another Foreign Entity?

A California LLC can convert to another business entity, such as a corporation, through a process known as conversion. However, converting an LLC into a foreign business entity may depend on the specific laws and regulations of the foreign jurisdiction involved. Consulting legal professionals experienced in international business transactions is recommended for accurate guidance.

What Are the Tax Requirements for Converting an LLC to a C-Corporation in California?

The tax requirements for converting an LLC to a C-Corporation in California involve filing Form 8832 with the IRS and obtaining a new federal tax ID. Additionally, you may need to comply with state-specific regulations and potentially face tax consequences. Professional guidance is advised to ensure compliance with complex tax procedures



About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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