How to Start an LLC in Vermont? (Step by Step Guide)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: February 13, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Lou Viveros, Growth & Transition Advisor
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Starting a limited liability company in Vermont can be a great way to protect your personal assets and run your business. This is not only a popular business structure, but it's also one of the easiest ones to set up.

From our experience, forming an LLC in Vermont is not only simple but also a very affordable option.

With over ten years of experience in business formation, we, as legal advisors and attorneys, have conducted extensive research on LLC-related procedures in Vermont.

Our personal experience and fact-backed input aim to guide you in forming an LLC in Vermont with ease.

Moreover, you might consider utilizing these Vermont-based professional LLC formation services, which specialize in setting up your LLC for you.

Quick Summary

  • Forming an LLC in Vermont involves choosing a unique business name, filing Articles of Organization, and complying with state-specific regulations.
  • Vermont LLCs benefit from limited liability protection, flexible tax options, and supportive state incentives for small businesses.
  • Vermont hosts, according to 2023 U.S. State Business Administration data, 76,878 small businesses, accounting for 99% of all businesses in the state, showcasing its strong entrepreneurial culture.
  • Vermont's supportive environment and simplified process, from my perspective, make it an attractive state for entrepreneurs to form an LLC.


How To Start an LLC in Vermont

To start an LLC smoothly, follow the steps listed below:

1. Choose the Type of Your Vermont LLC (Mandatory)

Selecting the right LLC structure in Vermont is crucial. Each type offers unique benefits and challenges:

  1. Single-Member LLC: Offers simplicity and direct control for a sole entrepreneur, but may have limited growth potential and credibility with financial institutions.
  2. Multi-Member LLC: Ideal for businesses with multiple owners, providing shared decision-making and responsibility. However, it can lead to potential conflicts and require more complex agreements.
  3. Manager-Managed LLC: Useful when members prefer not to be involved in daily operations. It allows for professional management, though it can reduce member control over business decisions.
  4. Member-Managed LLC: In this structure, all members are actively involved in management, fostering transparency and collaboration. It can, however, lead to slower decision-making and potential management conflicts.

2. Choose a Name for Your LLC (Mandatory)

Three office persons discussing about LLC formation in Vermont at a table

Selecting a unique and compliant LLC name in Vermont  is a step I emphasize in my consultations. I've assisted clients in brainstorming and verifying names to ensure they stand out and meet state requirements.

Vermont allows you to choose any name as long as another business entity does not already use it.

You can look up an LLC in Vermont by searching the Vermont Secretary of State website to see if your desired name is available.

If your chosen business name is not available, you can still proceed with registering your limited liability company, but you will need to include a descriptive business name as well.

This can be done by filing a Name Reservation Request form with the Vermont Secretary of State. There is a nominal fee associated with this service [1].

Furthermore, your LLC's name must include the abbreviation "LLC" or "L.L.C." This applies to both local LLCs and foreign LLCs.

3. Select a Registered Agent (Mandatory)

Three businesspeople discussing about appointing a registered agent

As a business consultant, I stress the importance of choosing a reliable registered agent. My experience involves guiding clients to select professional services that align with their business needs and legal compliance.

A registered agent is a person or entity registered with the state to accept legal notifications on behalf of your Vermont LLC.

This is a requirement in Vermont and you must be appointed before filing your Articles of Organization.

The registered agent in Vermont can be either an individual or a company. If you choose to appoint an individual, they must reside in Vermont.

If you decide to appoint a company, they must be registered with the state and have a physical address in Vermont.

A Vermont registered agent will usually require a yearly fee.

You can also act as your own registered agent if you want to save money. You must have a physical address in Vermont to do so.

4. File Articles of Organization (Mandatory)

The next step is to file a Vermont LLC Articles of Organization with the Vermont Secretary of State. An article of organization is a document that formally establishes your LLC.

The form can be downloaded from the state website and must be completed with the following information:

  • Your LLC's name and registered agent
  • The purpose of your LLC
  • Names and addresses of all members and managers
  • The duration of your Vermont LLC (permanent or specific)

The filing fee for submitting LLC Articles of Organization is $125.

The Articles of Organization are an important document because they contain all the important information about your business entity. Make sure to keep a copy for your records.

Steps to Take After Forming an LLC in Vermont

A Vermont LLC operating agreement is not required by law, but it's highly recommended to have one in place.

This document will outline the operations and management of your business, including who makes decisions, how profits are shared, and more.

Having an operating agreement is a good way to ensure that everyone involved in your LLC is on the same page. It can also help prevent disputes down the road.

You can find a template for an LLC operating agreement online, or you can work with an attorney to create one specifically for your business.

You can also write an operating agreement manually. Drafting an operating agreement is easy, but it's important to ensure that all of the details are covered.

The operating agreement should include details such as:

  • Membership interests and ownership percentages
  • Who will be responsible for management duties
  • How profits and losses will be allocated among members
  • How the LLC will be dissolved
A man holding a white card

In my consultancy, applying for an EIN is a key step I guide clients through, as it's crucial for tax identification and necessary for LLCs with employees or specific tax obligations.

This number is used to identify your business for tax purposes. Your LLC will need an EIN if it has employees or plans on filing taxes as a corporation.

An EIN is necessary because it will allow you to open a business bank account, file Vermont LLC taxes, and more. Obtaining an EIN is easy and can be done online. There is no fee to get an employer identification number.

You can visit the Internal Revenue Service website and apply for an EIN. Be sure to have the following information handy:

  • The name of your LLC
  • The address of your business
  • The type of business entity (LLC, corporation, etc.)
  • The number of employees you have

Applying for an EIN usually takes a few minutes, and you will receive your number immediately once you apply.

Two people exchanging things in an office

Once your LLC is formed, it's a good idea to open an LLC business bank account and an LLC business credit card. This will help you keep your finances separate from your personal accounts and make it easier to track expenses and income.

Setting up a dedicated LLC bank account is a foundational step for financial management. I assist clients in selecting banks that offer services aligned with their business needs, including merchant services for customer transactions.

Many banks offer special business checking and savings accounts that come with added benefits such as free online banking, bill pay, and more. Be sure to compare different accounts and find one that fits your needs.

In addition, it's a good idea to get a business credit card. This will help you build credit for your LLC and make it easier to finance future purchases.

There are many different business credit cards available, and you should be able to find one that fits your company's needs.

8. File your Vermont LLC Annual Report (Mandatory)

An LLC annual report is a report that is due each year to the state corporation's division.

This report contains important information about your LLC's name, address, and contact information. It's also a good opportunity to update any changes in your company, such as new members or officers [2].

The LLC annual report in Vermont must be filed by April 15th of each year. You can file your annual report online or by mail.

If you fail to submit an annual report, the state will suspend your LLC's operations, and you may be subject to fines. It's therefore essential to make sure that you stay on top of this task and file your annual report on time.

9. Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

In Vermont, the requirements for business licenses and permits vary based on the business location and nature.

Here are some specific examples:

  1. General Business License: Vermont does not have a state-wide general business license, but many cities have their own requirements. For example, businesses in Burlington can find licensing information on the City of Burlington website, while in Rutland, businesses such as restaurants, bars, delis, or hotels need to obtain a license from the Rutland City Clerk​​.
  2. Building & Zoning Permits: These include occupancy permits, zoning regulations, and building permits for construction or renovations. Additionally, some municipalities require permits for adding signage​​.
  3. Business Tax Account: Most businesses in Vermont need to register for a Business Tax Account with the Vermont Department of Taxes. This account is necessary for registering for a Vermont sales tax permit, meals and room tax, and employer withholding tax​​.
  4. Certificate of Exemption: Often required for businesses purchasing merchandise to resell, this certificate allows businesses to avoid paying sales tax on merchandise that will be resold to customers​​.
  5. Professional Licenses: Various professions in Vermont are regulated and require registration. This includes barbers, athletic trainers, tattoo artists, and several others. Licensing for specific professions and industries like food establishments, daycares, and salvage yards is also required​​.

10. Choosing Your Tax Structure

When establishing an LLC in Vermont, selecting the appropriate tax structure is crucial. Generally, an LLC can be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation, with each option having its pros and cons.

Sole Proprietorship and Partnership: Default for single-member and multi-member LLCs, respectively. They offer pass-through taxation, meaning profits are taxed at personal income rates, simplifying tax filing. However, this could lead to higher self-employment taxes.

C Corporation: Separates the business from its owners for tax purposes, which is beneficial for larger operations planning to reinvest profits or seeking external investors. The downside is double taxation—first at the corporate level, then on dividends to shareholders.

S Corporation: Combines pass-through taxation with potential savings on self-employment taxes, but with stricter regulations and shareholder limitations. It's often favored by small businesses for balancing tax benefits and operational flexibility.

"While the appeal of an LLC lies in its ability to bypass double taxation, it's noteworthy that the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% in 2018 has lessened the burden of double taxation, making it not as daunting as before."

- Jon Morgan, CEO, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter

While federal tax implications are consistent, Vermont-specific tax rules may affect your decision. State tax rates and regulations could influence the overall tax burden, particularly for C and S Corporations. Consulting with a Vermont tax professional is advisable for tailored advice.

Federally, the election for a different tax structure must occur within 75 days of forming your LLC or by March 15th of the tax year. Be mindful of any Vermont-specific deadlines or compliance requirements, ensuring you align with both federal and state regulations.

Benefits and Drawbacks of an LLC in Vermont

In Vermont, according to U.S. State Business Administration data, 76,878 small businesses make up 99% of all business entities in the state, demonstrating the state's robust entrepreneurial spirit and the popularity of small enterprises as a business model [3].

This supportive environment, combined with flexible tax options and limited liability protection, makes Vermont an attractive place for business owners.

When considering forming an LLC in Vermont, it’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits:

  1. Limited Personal Liability: Vermont LLC owners enjoy limited personal liability, meaning personal assets are typically protected from business debts and lawsuits.
  2. Flexible Tax Options: Vermont LLCs can choose how they want to be taxed (like a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation), allowing for strategic tax planning. The pass-through taxation option helps avoid double taxation.
  3. Ease of Formation and Maintenance: Vermont has a relatively straightforward process for forming and maintaining an LLC, with minimal annual requirements, such as filing an annual report.
  4. State-Specific Incentives: Vermont offers various programs and incentives for small businesses, including grants, loans, and technical assistance, which can be beneficial for new LLCs.

Drawbacks:

  1. State Tax Considerations: While federal tax benefits are significant, Vermont’s state taxes, including corporate and personal income tax rates, might impact the overall tax burden of an LLC. According to the Department of Taxes, Vermont's individual income tax rates vary from 3.55% to 8.95%, and S corporations face an annual business entity tax of $250, which could influence your decision on choosing the best tax structure for your LLC [4]. This could be a disadvantage compared to states with lower tax rates.
  2. Limited Growth Potential: For businesses looking to attract venture capital or go public, the LLC structure might be limiting as it’s less attractive to certain types of investors compared to a corporation.
  3. Rural Market Limitations: Vermont’s predominantly rural market might limit growth potential for certain types of businesses that thrive in more urban settings.

DIY vs. Professional LLC Formation

When forming an LLC in Vermont, you have two primary options: do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional service. Understanding the pros, cons, and risks of each can help you make an informed decision based on your individual requirements.

DIY LLC Formation

Pros:

  1. Cost-Effective: Typically less expensive as you’re avoiding professional service fees.
  2. Direct Control: You have complete control over the filing process and understand each step intimately.
  3. Learning Experience: Offers a deep understanding of the business's legal structure.

Cons:

  1. Time-Consuming: Requires significant time to research and understand Vermont-specific regulations.
  2. Risk of Errors: Without legal expertise, you risk making mistakes in the filing process, which can lead to compliance issues.
  3. No Legal Advice: Lacks professional guidance, potentially leading to misinformed decisions, especially in complex legal matters.

Professional LLC Formation Services

Pros:

  1. Expertise and Compliance: Professionals are knowledgeable about Vermont's LLC regulations, ensuring compliance.
  2. Time Savings: Saves time as the service handles the complexities of the formation process.
  3. Peace of Mind: Offers assurance that your LLC is set up correctly.
  4. Additional Services: Often provide additional services like registered agent services, ongoing compliance assistance, and customized legal documents.

Cons:

  1. Cost: More expensive due to service fees.
  2. Less Hands-On Involvement: You may have less understanding of the finer details of your LLC’s formation.
  3. Generic Solutions: Some services may offer a one-size-fits-all approach, which might not suit unique business needs.

The choice between DIY and professional LLC formation depends on factors like your budget, available time, legal knowledge, need for customization, and desire for compliance assistance.

If you have legal expertise, are willing to invest time in learning, and are on a tight budget, DIY might be a viable option.

If you prioritize time efficiency, require specific legal expertise, and seek peace of mind regarding compliance, a professional service may be worth the investment.

FAQs

Does Vermont Tax Out-Of-State Income?

Vermont generally does not tax out-of-state income, although there are exceptions. It is always best to consult the Vermont's Department of Taxes for specific details.

Can an LLC in Vermont Be Formed for the Purpose of Asset Protection?

Yes, an LLC in Vermont can provide asset protection. It separates personal assets from business liabilities, shielding them from business debts or lawsuits. However, this protection has limits, such as in cases of personal wrongdoing by an LLC member.

Can a Vermont LLC Do Business in Other States, and What Are the Requirements?

Yes, a Vermont LLC can do business in other states, but it must register as a foreign LLC in those states. This process typically involves filing a Certificate of Authority, appointing a registered agent, and complying with local state laws and tax requirements.


References:

  1. https://sos.vermont.gov/corporations/copies-certificates/forms-request/
  2. https://sos.vermont.gov/corporations/renewals-updates/reports-renewals/annual-biennial-reports/
  3. https://advocacy.sba.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/2023-Small-Business-Economic-Profile-VT.pdf
  4. https://tax.vermont.gov/sites/tax/files/documents/GB-1186.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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