How to Start an LLC in Arkansas? (In 10 Easy Steps)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: March 6, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Lou Viveros, Growth & Transition Advisor
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Forming a limited liability company can be confusing, especially if this is your first time doing it. You can apply for your LLC in Arkansas with a clear roadmap in six easy steps. Furthermore, just like any other state, Arkansas LLC has unique advantages.

With my expertise in Arkansas business regulations and extensive research, I’ve ensured accurate and up-to-date information at your fingertips. This guide will help you gain the confidence to navigate the LLC formation process smoothly.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the basics of what you need to know about getting a limited liability company in Arkansas so that you can get started with your new business.

However, suppose you are new to the business world, and this seems overwhelming. In that case, it may be best for you to seek legal advice from an Arkansas LLC service provider, with vast experience forming companies. It becomes handy, especially with the operating agreement and other vital documents.

Quick Summary

  • Starting an LLC in Arkansas involves selecting a unique name, appointing a registered agent, and filing Articles of Organization, along with creating an operating agreement and obtaining an EIN.
  • An Arkansas LLC offers benefits such as limited liability protection, flexible management structure, and pass-through taxation.
  • Considering that small businesses represent 99.3% of all Arkansas businesses, establishing an LLC in Arkansas can provide entrepreneurs with the necessary legal structure to protect their personal assets and benefit from the state's vibrant small business ecosystem.
  • The structured process in Arkansas, in my opinion, makes it conducive for entrepreneurs to establish their businesses.


How to Form an LLC in Arkansas

Before the state of Arkansas officially acknowledges your new LLC, it must go through several stages.

You must ensure that everything is done correctly and by Arkansas law, or you will have to start from scratch. The formation documents of LLCs are crucial, so double-check everything.

1. Choose the Type of Your LLC (Mandatory)

In Arkansas, when forming an LLC you typically choose between three main types: 

  • Single-Member LLC:
    • Advantages: Complete control by the owner, simpler management structure, and less complex regulatory requirements.
    • Disadvantages: Limited growth potential due to single ownership, and personal asset protection may be weaker compared to multi-member structures.
  • Multi-Member LLC:
    • Advantages: Potential for more investment and varied expertise from multiple members, shared management responsibilities, and generally stronger protection for personal assets.
    • Disadvantages: More complex management structure, potential for conflicts among members, and more intricate tax filing requirements.
  • Series LLC:
    • Advantages: Allows for the creation of separate "series" or cells within one LLC, each with its own liability, assets, and interests, ideal for companies with diverse lines of business.
    • Disadvantages: Complex structure, not recognized in all states, which can complicate interstate business, and potentially more complex legal and tax considerations.

Each type of LLC caters to different business needs and objectives. Therefore, it's important to carefully consider your business goals and legal requirements when choosing the LLC structure.

2. Choose a Name for Your Arkansas LLC (Mandatory)

Writing on a blank surface

Picking a suitable name for your Arkansas LLC involves a few steps.

Here are the simple steps you need to consider:

  • Conduct thorough research to ensure your chosen name is unique and not already in use by another Arkansas LLC. Check the Arkansas Secretary of State's website or contact them directly for availability [1].
  • Ensure your LLC name meets the Arkansas state’s legal requirements. It must include the term "Limited Liability Company" or an abbreviation like "LLC" or "L.L.C."
  • Next, you’ll consider selecting a name that accurately reflects your business and that customers can easily remember.
  • Your branding strategy should also matter. Choose a name that will align with your company's mission, vision, and values.
  • Conduct a trademark search to ensure your name doesn't infringe on existing trademarks. You can use the United States Patent and Trademark Office's online database or seek legal advice if necessary [2].
  • You also have the option to reserve your LLC name if you are not ready to form your LLC immediately. You can do this through the Arkansas Secretary of State by filing an application and paying the required fee.
  • Before finalizing your LLC name, thoroughly check to ensure it's available for registration. Double-check with the Arkansas Secretary of State's office to confirm its availability.

See our article for more information on how to change an LLC name in Arkansas.

The LLC name you choose shouldn't contain any other designation, such as:

  • A geographic location not associated with your business
  • Words like Bank, Government agency, Insurance Company, or Corporation unless it is incorporated under law
  • Names of public officials (such as a judge) 
  • Fictitious names that may mislead others about your LLC's nature

You can reserve an LLC name for up to 120 days without starting business operations or incurring fees. If you file online, the mail filing fee is $25 or $22.

To learn about additional costs associated with forming an LLC in Arkansas, consult our guide.

3. Select a Registered Agent (Mandatory)

Shaking hands with another business person after creating an LLC in Arkansas

An Arkansas registered agent service is a person or business designated to receive legal papers and tax notices on behalf of your LLC. They will then forward these documents to the appropriate individuals within your company.

Arkansas is an "at-will" state so you can change LLC registered agents with the Secretary of State.

A registered agent must be a resident of the state. If you hire an outside business to serve as your registered agent, there are specific statutory requirements they must meet for them to qualify.

In addition to being available at their physical address during normal business hours, Arkansas law requires that a registered agent service has regular access via fax or e-mail before the Secretary of State's office requires an on-site visit.

The Arkansas Secretary of State has a list of companies approved as registered agents and other businesses offering such services.

It is best to choose a registered agent from this list so that there is no question about whether or not their service will meet statutory requirements.

4. File Articles of Organization (Mandatory)

Organizing files and documents inside folders

Once you have decided on the registered agent service, I advise my clients to proceed with the formalities required by law. One crucial step in this process is filing the Articles of Organization.

This legal document serves as the foundation of your LLC and contains vital information about your business.

Arkansas Articles of Organization, also known as Certificate of Organization (CO) in Arkansas, are filed with the Secretary of State.

The Articles of Organization must include the following information:

  • LLC's name, street address, and registered agent's physical address
  • Name and full business or residential addresses of each organizer/member that is not a corporation or limited partnership
  • Purpose of the LLC (must be specific enough to show intent)
  • Signature by an organizer/member who is not a corporation or limited partner
  • Management structure

Once you have gathered the necessary information, you can file the Articles of Organization with the appropriate state agency, typically the Secretary of State's office or a similar governing body.

Review the filing fee and submission requirements to ensure accurate and timely submission. The Arkansas filing fee is $50.

Once the LLC articles are filed with the state, they become public records. Another step requires submitting articles to local county registrar offices so your company becomes publicly searchable on their websites.

This step also solidifies your business's legal standing and lays the groundwork for future operations, including obtaining necessary licenses and permits, opening an LLC business bank account, and entering into contracts.

Steps to Take After Forming an LLC in Arkansas

A drawer full of organized and important documents

After successfully forming a Limited Liability Company in Arkansas, there are several important steps to take to ensure your business is compliant and well-positioned for success. This next phase involves:

Crafting an Arkansas LLC operating agreement is vital to establishing a solid foundation for your business.

An operating agreement serves as a crucial document that outlines the following:

  • Internal operations
  • Management structure
  • Decision-making processes of your LLC.

This agreement ensures a clear understanding between the members, provides legal protection, and minimizes potential disputes.

While no legal requirement mandates an operating agreement in Arkansas, having one in place is highly recommended. The LLC operating agreement helps define the rules and procedures that govern your company's internal affairs.

You should complete it before filing for LLC status with the state government to avoid confusion about how the company will operate.

Operating agreements also require keeping financial records and accounting logs. This makes it easier for individuals who leave the company (such as when they retire) to hand off their responsibilities properly without causing issues with tax returns and bookkeeping.

Register button on a keyboard concept

An LLC in Arkansas will require you to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to serve various purposes, such as:

  • Opening a business bank account
  • Filing taxes
  • Hiring employees
  • Conducting certain financial transactions

You can apply for an Employer Identification Number through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website online filing system free of charge.

Once you are on the EIN application page, you must provide certain information about your Arkansas LLC, including: 

  • Its legal name
  • Registered address
  • Responsible party
  • Type of business you operate

After submitting the online application, the IRS will immediately provide you with an EIN for your Arkansas LLC if all the information is in order. You can receive the EIN confirmation letter electronically or by mail, depending on your preference.

Licensed document concept

This step is important for efficient financial management. Having a separate LLC bank account offers numerous advantages.

Firstly, it distinctly separates your personal finances from your business transactions, which is crucial for maintaining the limited liability protection.

This separation simplifies accounting and tax processes, making it easier to track expenses, and prepare financial statements.

Additionally, a dedicated business account enhances professionalism, as clients and vendors can make payments to the business name.

When opening an account, you'll typically need your LLC's formation documents, EIN, and possibly a resolution identifying authorized signers. This step ensures financial clarity and reinforces the legitimacy of your LLC in the eyes of the law and stakeholders.

8. File Your Arkansas LLC Annual Report (Mandatory)

A man organizing documents for an Arkansas LLC

You must file your annual report and submit it to the Arkansas Secretary of State to ensure that your business information is current and accurate.

The report provides essential details such as the LLC's name, address, registered agent, and the names of managers or members.

Fees and Due Dates:

  • Filing Fee: The fee for filing an Annual Report in Arkansas is $150.
  • Due Date: The Annual Report is due by May 1st of each year. It's important to note that this deadline is consistent regardless of when the LLC was initially formed.

Failure to file the Annual Report can result in penalties and may even lead to the administrative dissolution of your LLC. Therefore, it's crucial to adhere to this requirement to maintain good standing with the state.

Most businesses opt to file this report online for convenience, though it can also be done via mail. Ensure that the information provided is accurate and current to avoid any complications with the state authorities.

9. Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

If you want to open a professional LLC in Arkansas, you must ensure you get all the required licenses.

Business licenses and permits differ depending on where you live, so it's important to find out what your city or county needs. You'll also want to know any state and federal requirements that may apply.

If you don't know where to start, the Arkansas Secretary of State Office maintains a Professional Licensing website that can help answer some questions and point you in the right direction about what business license you need.

Also, note that licenses are not transferable from one location to another; whatever license applies for this LLC is only valid at its registered address (not necessarily where it does most of its work).

10. Choosing Your Tax Structure

Close up image of a calculator with TAX word

Taxes are an important aspect of business finances. LLCs are under the obligation to pay taxes in the same way as other business entities in Arkansas.

Income from your company will appear on your individual tax return -- but only if you've elected LLC pass-through taxation with the IRS (which has its own set of rules).

A professional limited liability company in Arkansas can be taxed as a corporation (S or C corporation) or a partnership. The default tax treatment for all LLCs is as a pass-through withholding entity.

This means the LLC does not pay taxes; all profits and losses are passed to their owners (members), who report them on their personal income tax returns using Schedule K-­1 Form or Form 8832 [3].

Arkansas LLCs must file an annual franchise tax report with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, requiring them to pay a filing fee.

The annual franchise tax is $150 for Arkansas LLCs, regardless of their business assets.

"If your Arkansas LLC has employees within the state, you'll have to withhold federal and state income tax from their wages and pay a matching amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes."

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

Related Articles:

Benefits and Drawbacks of an LLC in Arkansas

Benefits:

  • Limited liability protection: Business owners—known as members—enjoy limited personal liability for the company's debts and obligations. This protection is crucial in a state with such a vast number of small enterprises, safeguarding their personal assets from business liabilities.
  • Flexible management structure: The flexibility of an Arkansas LLC is underscored by the state's business growth, with 11,043 establishments launched from March 2021 to March 2022 [4]. This structure supports diverse entrepreneurial needs and management styles, essential for adapting to a dynamic business environment.
  • Pass-through taxation: An Arkansas LLC is typically not subject to separate corporate taxes. Instead, profits and losses "pass through" to the members, who report them on their personal tax returns. This helps avoid double taxation.
  • Easy formation and maintenance: Forming an Arkansas LLC is relatively straightforward and requires minimal paperwork compared to other business entities. Additionally, LLCs have fewer ongoing compliance requirements, reducing administrative burdens.

Drawbacks:

  • Franchise Tax: While the tax structure is generally favorable, Arkansas LLCs are subject to an annual franchise tax of $150, which is a consideration for small businesses with tight budgets.
  • Limited Growth Potential for Certain Industries: Depending on the industry, some businesses might find limited growth opportunities in Arkansas due to its smaller market size compared to larger states.
  • Economic Diversity: While Arkansas has a growing economy, it may not offer the same level of economic diversity and opportunity as more populous states. This could be a limitation for certain types of businesses looking for a wide range of market opportunities.

DIY vs. Professional LLC Formation

DIY LLC

Pros:

  • Cost-Effective: Doing it yourself is generally less expensive upfront, as you save on professional service fees.
  • Control and Learning: Handling the process yourself gives you complete control and a deeper understanding of your business’s legal structure.
  • Flexibility: You can work at your own pace and make decisions based on your specific needs and timeline.

Cons:

  • Time-Consuming: The process can be time-intensive, requiring substantial research and learning.
  • Risk of Errors: Without professional guidance, there's a higher risk of making mistakes in paperwork or missing crucial legal requirements.
  • Limited Legal Expertise: DIY may not provide the comprehensive legal insight needed for more complex business structures.

Professional LLC Formation:

Pros:

  • Expertise and Reliability: Professionals bring experience and knowledge, ensuring legal compliance and accuracy in filing.
  • Time-Saving: Outsourcing this task frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Compliance Assistance: Professionals can help navigate state-specific requirements and ongoing compliance needs.

Cons:

  • Higher Cost: Professional services come with fees, which can be significant depending on the provider.
  • Less Hands-On Involvement: You might have less involvement in the process, which can be a downside if you prefer to have direct control.

Your decision should align with your business needs, expertise, and resources. Both DIY and professional formation have their merits, and the right choice varies based on individual circumstances and business complexities.

FAQs

How Do You Find Out Who Owns a Limited Liability Company in Arkansas?

To find out who owns an LLC in Arkansas, search the Arkansas Secretary of State's public records. The Secretary of State's online database LLC displays all ownership information available to the public, including owners' names.

Can I Run My LLC From Home in Arkansas?

Yes, you can run your LLC from home, but check local zoning laws and understand that your home address will become public record.


References:

  1. https://www.sos.arkansas.gov
    /uploads/bcs/BCS_Name_Availability_Guidelines.7__.28__.21__.final__%281%29_.pdf
  2. https://www.uspto.gov/
  3. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/llc-filing-as-a-corporation-or-partnership
  4. https://advocacy.sba.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/2023-Small-Business-Economic-Profile-AR.pdf

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.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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