How To Start an LLC in Colorado
To start an LLC in Colorado, you must file Articles of Organization with the Colorado Secretary of State. This document must be filed online. The Articles of Organization cost $50 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Colorado LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a Colorado LLC Guide:
Colorado LLC Filing Options
Free PDF Download
Colorado LLC Articles of Organization free download. This is a sample PDF, all Colorado LLC's must be formed online.
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Colorado LLC Articles of Organization Requirements
To form a Colorado LLC, you must complete and file the Articles of Organization online with the Colorado Secretary of State. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
You must include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC” in your name, and you can’t pick a name already in use.
Your principal office has to be a street address (no PO Boxes). Note that any address you put in your Articles of Organization becomes a permanent part of the public record—hire us and you can use our address.
You can list either an individual or a business that provides registered agent service (like Northwest).
This is the address where legal notifications are delivered. It has to be a Colorado street address. Have we said yet that if you hire us, you can use our address?
This is a really strange way of asking “who is filling out the form?” Especially since it doesn’t even have to be a person; it can be a business, like Northwest. If you’re going to list yourself, at the very least use a PO Box or a business address and avoid making your personal address part of the public record. Even better, hire us and list our information.
You can choose to have members manage the LLC themselves, or you can have one or more managers run the show. Basically, it’s all about who gets to make decisions. Most small LLCs are member-managed. However, if you want to retain ownership interest but don’t actually want to run day-to-day operations, you can hire or appoint managers.
Most Colorado LLCs begin existence the moment they’re approved by the Colorado Secretary of State. Want to a wait a bit (maybe until the next tax year starts)? You can choose a future date for your business to start as long as it’s within 90 days of filing.
This is another unnecessarily weird phrasing. Basically, Colorado wants to know who’s actually delivering the form. Odds are—since all filings are submitted online—it’s going to be the same person that is forming the LLC. There’s not exactly a lot of time between filling out the form and clicking “submit.” Really, what it boils down to is that the state wants to make sure a real person’s name is listed in your Articles—but it doesn’t have to be yours. Maintain your privacy when you hire Northwest; we’ll put our information here as well.
How much does it cost to start a Colorado LLC?
The Colorado Secretary of State charges a $50 filing fee for Colorado LLCs. Hire Northwest, and your total out-the-door cost is $275, including state filing fees, registered agent service, and loads of useful forms and tools to help your business get up and running.
How long does it take to start a Colorado LLC?
Colorado does all filings online, and your Colorado LLC Articles of Organization are processed immediately. On one hand, it’s nice to find a state that’s systematized everything into an online process—no waiting for state government employees to re-enter all your data from a paper form. On the other hand, a lot of people trying to register their LLC find themselves staring down a computer screen, watching the pages load. Or trying to figure out who can be their registered agent. Or second-guessing which address to put for the principal office, registered office, person forming the LLC and “individual causing delivery.”
Hire Northwest, sit back and let our Corporate Guides file everything correctly the first time. Take the dog for a hike. Maybe grab a beer. By the time you get back, you may already have an approved LLC—along with a year of registered agent service and all the docs you need to open a business bank account.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your Colorado LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does a Colorado LLC need a registered agent?
Yes, Colorado state statutes require LLCs to appoint a registered agent. You don’t have to hire someone. You could do it yourself—but know that you’d have to publicly list a physical address (not a PO Box) that would become part of the permanent record of your Colorado LLC. You’d also have to be available at that address during business hours to accept legal notices. Not keen on publicly listing your address or being tied to the office? When you hire Northwest, you can list our address instead of your own and free yourself up to focus on your business. (Or you know, go skiing.)
Create the Colorado LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need an Operating Agreement?
Operating agreements are internal documents—so there’s no regulatory agency in Colorado knocking on your door and demanding to see your operating agreement. That doesn’t mean you don’t need one though. The state may not care if you have an operating agreement, but there are plenty of people who will care. The bank will when you go to open a business bank account. Future business partners will when they consider working with you. Current members and managers will when it comes time to distribute profits and losses. Or when there’s a dispute. Or if the business comes to end. Essentially, while the state may not care about operating agreements, YOU should.
Do I have to write the Operating Agreement?
Not alone. As part of our business formation service, we file your Articles of Organization (and help you maintain privacy by using our address), but that’s small potatoes compared to everything else we provide. We include a free operating agreement, specific to your management style. And membership certificates. And initial resolutions. We give you all the docs you need to take to the bank and open a bank account, so you don’t have to spend a week after registering your business in panic trying to put together everything you need to really get started.
Our operating agreements and other free forms aren’t like the other free junk online. We’ve spent years revising and improving all of our forms to make them better and better. Over a million LLCs have used our free LLC forms:
Get a Colorado LLC EIN
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
Most LLCs will want to get an EIN. You must get a federal tax ID if you plan to hire employees or if you require special tax filings (like Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms returns). Most banks ask for your EIN when you go to open a business bank account. Vendors will also ask for your EIN when you go to open a line of credit. Applying for a business loan? Same story. Even local licensing and tax forms typically request your EIN. Sometimes you’ll have the option of using your EIN instead of your personal social security number—and the less often you have to hand out your SS# to strangers the better. The IRS doesn’t charge a fee for issuing an EIN, so why not get one? Don’t want to fill out the paperwork? Add on EIN service when you hire Northwest.
Open a Bank Account for Your Colorado LLC
To open a bank account for your Colorado LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
- A copy of the Colorado LLC Articles of Organization
- The LLC operating agreement
- The Colorado LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open business accounts nearly as frequently as personal accounts, so some bankers may be unfamiliar with their own bank’s requirements. As frustrating as that may be for you, calling ahead will help save you from being super annoyed when you walk into the bank.
Obtain a Business License
Does a Colorado LLC need a business license?
Most likely—although whether or not you need a business license depends on where in Colorado your business is registered. Colorado itself doesn’t issue business licenses, but many cities and counties do. For example, Aspen requires a business license (which ranges from $150-$750) that must be renewed yearly.
There are also state tax licenses you may need to apply for, like the sales tax license issued by the Department of Revenue. Colorado also regulates a wide variety of industries. The Department of Regulatory Agencies requires professional licenses for everything from accountants to mixed martial arts officials. So, considering that Colorado requires a license just to run a fantasy football contest (seriously), double check whether your LLC needs a professional license, no matter how unlikely it may seem.
File the LLC Periodic Report
What is a Colorado LLC Periodic Report?
The Periodic Report updates the state of Colorado with your ownership and contact information. You’re required to submit the form online each year and pay a $10 fee. You’ll be stuck with an additional $50 fee if it’s late.
Your due date is based on when you first registered your Colorado LLC, so it’s pretty easy to forget (particularly since the Secretary of State doesn’t mail out reminders). It’s not uncommon for LLCs to end up unnecessarily paying $60 a year for this report. At Northwest, we keep track of your report due dates and send you reminders to file. You can even hire us to file your Periodic Report for you.
How much does an LLC in Colorado cost each year?
There’s an annual fee of $10 to submit the Colorado LLC Periodic Report.
Pay the LLC Taxes
What are the Colorado LLC taxes?
The Colorado personal net income tax rate is a flat rate of 4.63%.
The state sales tax is only 2.9%, but cities and counties add on sales taxes of their own, making the price at the register much higher. For example, in Colorado Springs, the total sales tax comes out to 8.25%, and in Denver it’s 7.65%.