How to Start an LLC in Maryland? (Requirements & Formation)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: February 5, 2024
Methodology
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Opening an LLC in Maryland is a great way to start your own business entity, but before you take the leap, it's important to know the steps involved and the legal documents you need to submit.

As a seasoned consultant specializing in LLCs, I will cover everything you need to know about starting an LLC, including how it can help protect your personal assets and what steps are involved in opening one.

Quick Summary:

  • To start an LLC in Maryland, follow the steps and file the documents required by the state.
  • Determine if you need a business license based on the nature of the company.
  • Stay compliant with the state by filing annual reports and paying yearly franchise taxes.


How to Start a Maryland LLC

Finalizing a document

To start a Maryland LLC, it is important that you comply with Maryland law and file all essential documents.

Step 1: Name Your LLC

The first step in starting a limited liability company in Maryland is to come up with a name.

You will need this information when you file the articles of organization, which must include the business's name and address as well as its purpose.

There are several ways people can try to see if their desired LLC name is available before submitting it for approval.

You can check on the Maryland Division of Corporations website. If the name is available, you will see a "Register Now" button (if you're logged in) that can be clicked to complete your LLC registration online or submit a paper statement by mail or electronically as well.

You could also get a DBA, a business name, or a trading name to conduct business under. You can reserve a business name for up to 30 days and pay a $25 processing fee.

Read More: Maryland LLC Check

Step 2: Get a Registered Agent in Maryland

You need to appoint a registered agent located in Maryland.

A resident agent can be an individual or business entity that acts as the official representative of your LLC to receive service of process.

The registered agent also needs to be available during normal office hours, so this information needs to be in the Articles of Organization submitted to the Maryland Business Express website.

The good news is that finding registered agents for Maryland LLCs is rather easy as many companies on the web offer registered agent services for an affordable price.

A reliable registered agent service will provide you with a competent resident agent who knows what needs to be done.

Using a registered agent service costs $50 on average, but you can rest assured they'll take care of everything.

Step 3: File Maryland Articles of Organization

Filing important files and articles

File your Articles of Organization with the Corporations Division of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (DAT).

You can file articles either electronically through the Maryland Business Express website or on paper and pay a corresponding fee between $100 to $150.

The articles need to state basic information about your limited liability company, including its name, business address, members, nature and purpose of the company, registered agent's name and address, and whether you want your LLC managed by members or managers.

You also need to include the articles' effective date, which is when the articles are filed in Maryland.

Check our page for more information on the cost to start a Maryland LLC.

The articles must be signed by an authorized representative and filed in order to form your limited liability company.

Once you file the articles, it can take four to six weeks to have your Maryland LLC approved.

Step 4: Put Together an Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is a comprehensive legal document that sets forth the rights, powers, and duties of each Maryland LLC member.

Operating agreements are similar to a corporation's articles or bylaws, except it is designed for smaller LLC owners with more than one member.

The LLC operating agreement of a Maryland LLC should cover important issues such as:

  • Responsibilities of LLC members
  • How will decisions be made?
  • Who can make decisions?
  • How much will the members pay for their ownership interest (capital contribution)?

There are lots of other issues that should be covered in your operating agreement. For example, how will you handle a member's death or disability?

Who is liable if someone gets injured at your place of business and there was no comprehensive general liability insurance?

A comprehensive operating agreement will ensure a smooth and seamless transition if one of your members dies, becomes disabled, wants to leave the business, or sell their interest.

Step 5: Get an EIN

Once you file all the necessary paperwork for your LLC, you'll be issued a federal employer identification number (EIN). This is very important as it will allow you to hire employees and open a business bank account.

The EIN can also serve as an identifier if the company starts filing LLC taxes at some point in time.

You don't need a social security number to get an EIN.

How to Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Sharing documents and having a discussion

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the authority when it comes to taxes and forms.

Filing an LLC will result in some paperwork that needs to be processed by the IRS.

Here's how to contact them in order to obtain an IRS employer identification number.

LLC members and owners can contact them through phone, via email or by mail. Check out the IRS website for more information.

What Is a Limited Liability Company?

Two employees discussing the definition of a limited liability company

A limited liability company is a company that combines the pass-through taxation of a partnership with the limited liability of a corporation.

It is important to note, however, that LLCs are not corporations, and they have different filing requirements than corporations do.

An LLC provides its owners limited personal legal responsibility for certain debts or actions committed by the business, while an S Corporation has no such protections in place. Personal liability protection from business debts is the main trait of an LLC.

Only your business assets are at risk in case of a lawsuit against your Maryland business. Unlike a sole proprietorship or a partnership, a single-member LLC is considered a separate legal entity from its owner.

Maryland LLC Annual Filing Requirements

Planning on the table with the team in the office

LLCs have annual filing requirements that differ from state to state. In Maryland, a new LLC must file a document called an Annual Report before April 15.

If you do not submit an annual report in time, there are late filing fees each month until the report is submitted.

You can contact the Department of Assessments and Taxation for additional information about report filing.

1. State Business Tax

Once you have your federal tax identification number, you can file your federal income tax return. You should also contact the state where you are doing business to determine what filing requirements exist for LLCs in Maryland.

2. State Employer Taxes

Maryland LLC state employer tax is paid based on federal earned income. This means that you need to pay taxes on the money your business makes after all other deductions have been applied.

3. Sales Taxes

Sales taxes are also known as "transactional privilege" taxes. This means that you need to pay a tax on anything your business sells or transfers. Commonly, sales taxes are calculated by multiplying your sales price by the tax rate.

However, if you are selling your personal property or services, the tax may be based on what it would cost to replace the product. The important part is to check if you're due any taxes such as this one.

4. Personal Property Return

A personal property tax return is a return on your personal assets. You cannot file the personal property tax return online; it has to be printed out and mailed in.

If your business structure is required by law to register with Maryland, then the registration fee that your LLC needs will include personal property returns as well.

If not, then your county commissioners need to be contacted and asked if they allow people with LLCs to file for personal property returns before applying.

Do You Need a Business License?

You need a business license depending on the type of company the LLC is operating.

If you need to get a business license when starting a Maryland LLC, then you will also need to file personal property returns along with it.

Businesses that must have business licenses include those that fall under the business privilege tax.

This includes retail stores, service providers, and those who sell items to customers for a fee [1].

If your business falls into this category, you must pay fees that come with business licenses based on how much revenue you generate each year within Maryland.

Open an LLC Business Bank Account

Holding a card while registering on a laptop

You need to open a business bank account for your LLC. Businesses that have personal accounts can't move money back and forth between these types of accounts, so you will need to keep them separate.

If you already have an existing account with another company or individual, it's important to give this information when opening the new one for your LLC.

An LLC bank account is necessary for several different reasons.

For one, it is required for tax purposes; you will need to declare your income and expenses on a yearly basis based on how much revenue or profit your LLC generates during that year.

You must also use this account when opening up new accounts with suppliers or vendors so they know where to send invoices.

Related Article

FAQs

Is a Maryland LLC Easy to Start?

A Maryland LLC is easy to start. You simply need to file the proper documents and follow the steps according to state business law.

Can You Open a Foreign LLC in Maryland?

You can open a foreign LLC in Maryland by registering with the Department of Assessments and Taxation, Corporate Charter Division.

Does Maryland Require an Operating Agreement for LLC?

Maryland does not require an operating agreement for an LLC, however, it is advisable to draft one.

Forming an LLC in Maryland

The process of forming an LLC in Maryland is relatively straightforward and following the steps in this article will help you start the company more efficiently.

If you have any additional questions, you can also direct them to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation at 410-767-1184.

Ask for legal advice from ZenBusiness if you don't feel comfortable handling this on your own.

References:

  1. https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/start/licenses-and-permits

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