To form a Washington DC LLC, you'll need to submit the Articles of Organization with the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs with a filing fee of $220.

You can fill out an online application, come into the office in person, or send your paperwork by mail.

The legal document that establishes your DC limited liability company is known as the Articles of Organization. Follow our step-by-step guide to get started right away.

Step 1: Name Your Washington D.C. LLC

A group brainstorming about an LLC name

Your name must observe the naming restrictions in the District of Columbia. Each entry is checked against the master list of prohibited and reserved business names maintained by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, including acronyms that resemble a prohibited name.

If your desired LLC name falls under any of these categories, further research will be needed to find an appropriate alternative.

You should also search for and reserve your Washington DC LLC name on the Secretary of State's website: http://sos.dc.gov/service/prohibited-and-reserved-names.

You must also remember that your name must contain the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.)."This avoids the IRS regaining control of your company by delaying its effective date.

You must also consider if the name is available in Washington DC. Using the Washington DC website's name search feature is a good idea to double-check that the name you want isn't already taken.

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Washington D.C.

The first step is to choose a registered agent of your Washington DC LLC. A registered agent is an individual or business entity that receives official legal documents on behalf of Washington DC LLC.

A physical address of the registered agent must be provided for this purpose, which cannot be a P.O box or mail drop address. The main headquarters of the company must be at this address and you must also ensure that a registered agent is available to sign for deliveries.

You may want to hire an attorney or registered agent service to take care of your Washington DC LLC formation, or research.

Step 3: File Your Washington DC LLC Articles of Organization

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The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has a straightforward online system to file your LLC Articles of Organization, which can be completed in less than 5 minutes.

County Clerk's offices also offer the ability to complete an LLC formation for a small fee. You can check with your local county clerk's office for filing services available in your area.

With a consumer and regulatory affairs registered agent, you can confidently handle your consumer compliance issues with the consumer and regulatory affairs department.

When filing your Articles of Organization, select "Domestic Limited Liability Company (LLC)" as your form type. There are no additional requirements, aside from filing the $220 dollar fee and following all proper naming protocols outlined by consumer affairs.

Your Washington DC LLC will receive an effective date immediately upon receiving your articles of organization, which can be expedited if necessary for a small extra fee.

The certificate must include:

  • The LLC's trade name
  • The LLC's principal office's street address
  • The registered agent's name and address must be included.
  • Upon submitting the Articles, or at a later date, the effective date of the Articles is established.
  • The LLC's organizer's name and address
  • The organizer's signature is stamped.

Step 4: Create Your Washington DC LLC Operating Agreement

Your operating agreement is your LLC's internal rules for management, member capital contributions, distributions, and more. The operating agreement forms the basis of an LLC's governing rules.

An operating agreement can be oral or written but must have a written form if two or more members are involved in business decisions making.

There are no specific filing requirements for an operating agreement with consumer affairs.

However, your operating agreement can be amended or terminated at any time. It is helpful to keep consumer affairs aware of any changes so they know whom to contact for consumer compliance concerns.

Step 5: Comply With Other Tax and Regulatory Requirements

You are required to register your Washington DC LLC for consumer compliance with consumer affairs, if applicable, upon filing articles of organization.

Make sure that you are in compliance with all other tax and regulatory requirements as well, including sales taxes and employment laws.

If you have additional questions about starting a company or business entity in Washington, the District of Columbia consumer and regulatory affairs have an online service center that provides consumer compliance information and forms.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Man pointing at his white card with EIN initials

For federal tax purposes, you will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is a nine-digit number that identifies your LLC as a business entity. You can obtain an EIN by filing Form SS-4 with the Internal Revenue Service.

You can also apply for one online through consumer affairs if you file consumer compliance forms annually.

Why is an Employer Identification Number necessary? An EIN is required to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File and manage Federal and State Taxes such as sales tax and income tax
  • Hire employees

If you wish to hire individuals to work for your LLC, you will need an EIN in addition to filing consumer compliance forms with consumer affairs.

This is because the Washington District of Columbia doesn't recognize LLC members as employees and if the LLC hires employees who are not members, consumer affairs must be notified of consumer compliance responsibilities.

Business Licenses

You must then obtain a basic business license and most business licenses are issued by consumer affairs. Most consumer compliance forms must be filed with consumer affairs, as well as license fees paid to consumer affairs.

Register with Office of Tax and Revenue

Busy calculating taxes while holding a graph bar report

A consumer affairs consumer compliance registration is separate from tax registration.

To register with the Office of Tax and Revenue, file a D-4 Business Registration Application through consumer affairs.

Before applying for a consumer compliance license, check whether your business needs to file sales taxes or other business licenses with the Office of Tax and Revenue.

Registering for consumer compliance does not exempt you from other business requirements.

Registering for consumer compliance does not exempt you from other D.C. tax obligations, including sales taxes or registration with the Office of Tax and Revenue. You must file your consumer compliance forms annually to continue operating your Washington D.C LLC in good standing with consumer affairs.

Step 6: File Biennial Reports

Every two years, consumer affairs must be notified of consumer compliance responsibilities.

To do so, file a Consumer Compliance Registration and consent to electronic filing through the consumer affairs online service center.

After consumer compliance forms are filed and consumer affairs are notified of consumer compliance responsibilities, consumer affairs will send a consumer compliance number for your LLC in the mail. This number must be included with any consumer complaint information received by consumer affairs in the future.

Things To Consider After Forming Your Washington DC LLC

An accountant busy working in her office using a laptop

There are several important things to consider after forming your Washington DC LLC.

Separate Your Personal and Business Assets

When your personal and commercial accounts are linked, the legal principle of piercing the corporate veil applies. This is known as "piercing the corporate veil" in business law. You can start protecting your Washington DC LLC with these steps:

1. Open a business checking account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is critical for personal asset security.
  • Makes bookkeeping and tax preparation simpler

2. Get a business credit card:

  • Separates personal and business expenses.
  • This is the first step in building a company credit history. It'll help you get funding (e.g., small business loans) later on.

3. Hire a business accountant:

  • Transforms your bookkeeping process into an effective method to manage and report income, expenses, tax deductions, and other elements of the accounting cycle.
  • Makes keeping track of finances and paying employees easier, allowing you to focus on your expanding company.
  • Manages your business financing more effectively, identifying areas of unexpected loss or extra profit.

FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Start Washington DC LLC?

The cost to start an LLC in Washington, District of Columbia is $300 for filing consumer compliance forms, registration fees, and license fees with consumer affairs.

How Do I Start an LLC in the District of Columbia?

To start an LLC in the Washington District of Columbia, download the necessary forms, make sure consumer affairs is notified of consumer compliance responsibilities, pay consumer compliance registration fees, file consumer compliance forms annually, and get a consumer compliance number.

What Do I Need to Get a Washington DC LLC?

When starting an LLC in Washington District of Columbia consumer affairs must be notified of consumer compliance responsibilities, consumer compliance forms must be filed annually to maintain your LLC in good standing with consumer affairs, and a consumer compliance number needs to be included with any consumer complaint information received by consumer affairs.

How Long Does It Take To Form a Washington DC LLC?

It takes about 10 business days to form a Washington, District of Columbia LLC.

Where Do I Get an EIN?

To file an application for a federal tax ID number, known as an EIN or Employer Identification Number, online or by phone.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Yes. If you're an individual, you can be your own registered agent in Washington D.C. by filing consumer compliance forms and consumer compliance registration fees with consumer affairs.

However, using a Registered Agent service in Washington DC is an affordable way to manage government filings for your LLC.

When Do I Form a Foreign LLC in the District of Columbia?

A foreign LLC is an out-of-state company that provides consumer services in Washington DC.

If you plan to do business in Washington DC, a foreign LLC must be registered with consumer affairs by filing consumer compliance forms and consumer compliance registration fees.

Starting an LLC in Washington DC: Conclusion

In conclusion, consumer compliance does not exempt you from other D.C. tax obligations, including sales taxes or registration with the Office of Tax and Revenue. You must file your consumer compliance forms annually to continue operating your Washington District of Columbia LLC in good standing with consumer affairs.

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