Start a Corporation in Arkansas

Use our free business tools below to complete your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation. This is the document you file directly with the Arkansas Secretary of State to form your corporation.

If you want more, hire us to form your corporation in Arkansas. We’ll get your business stood up in minutes with a free domain, website, email, business phone, and more.

 

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How to Start a Corporation in Arkansas

A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners (shareholders). Often formed to conduct business, corporations protect owner assets (house, cars, bank accounts) from being used to settle business debts or lawsuits. To start a corporation in Arkansas, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Arkansas Secretary of State. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Incorporation cost $50 to file ($45 online). Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Arkansas corporation.

Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide for starting your Arkansas corporation, along with instructions on everything you need to do to get it ready to do business.

 

 

1. Name Your Corporation

If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your corporation. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit the Arkansas SOS business entity database and search until you find the perfect name for your corporation. Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation for one of these words, like “Inc.”

What's the difference between my corporation name and an assumed business name?

Whatever business name you write on your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation will be your corporation’s legal name. But down the road, you may decide you want to use a different name for your business, without going to the trouble of forming a whole new corporation. In this case, you’d need to register an assumed business name (aka fictitious business name or DBA). You’ll need to submit an Application For Fictitious Name with the Secretary of State and pay the $25 filing fee ($22.50 online).

Considering using an assumed business name? Learn how to get an Arkansas DBA.

Do I need to renew my Arkansas DBA?

No. An Arkansas DBA is perpetual.

2. Designate a Registered Agent

When filling out Articles of Incorporation, you’ll be prompted to list the name and address of your company’s registered agent. You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.

What does a registered agent do?

The duties of Arkansas registered agents are listed in AR Code § 4-20-114. Basically, a registered agent must:

  • Maintain a physical address (not a P.O. box or virtual office) in the state of Arkansas.
  • Be available during regular business hours to accept service of process in person.
  • Forward important legal mail to your business without delay.

Can I be my own registered agent in Arkansas?

Yes, you can be your own registered agent in Arkansas. With that said, however, after considering the registered agent requirements most business owners elect to hire a registered agent service instead. Why? Well although being your own registered agent will cost you $0, an Arkansas registered agent’s name and address becomes part of the public record.  Additionally, the registered agent is required to be available to accept service of process during normal business hours.

Can I change my registered agent after I start my corporation?

Yes. There are two ways to change your registered agent in Arkansas.

  1. Hire us and we’ll complete the change of agent form for you for free.
  2. Do it yourself and file a Notice of Change Registered Agent with the Arkansas BCS. There is no fee to file this form.

3. Submit Articles of Incorporation

Learn more about each Articles of Incorporation requirement below.

Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.

You’ll need to include the following information on your Articles of Incorporation:

  • Name of Corporation. Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation for one of these words, like “Inc.”
  • Shares and Par Value. List the number of shares you’d like to create. You have to create at least one. Some or all of these shares can be distributed later on at your organizational meeting. You’ll also need to list the par value (initial price) of each share. If you decide to have different classes or series of shares, you can include this information here as well.
  • Registered Agent and Address. For your Arkansas registered agent, you can list an individual Arkansas resident (such as yourself) or a business that provides registered agent service (like Northwest). Clearly, we’re fans of Northwest. The address is the street address where your agent will be available. The address you list will become part of the permanent public record of your corporation. When you hire Northwest, our address will go here—and you can better keep your own address off public records.
  • Arkansas Incorporator. Your incorporator is the person you authorize to sign and submit your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation. It doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone in the corporation—but they will need to include their name, address and signature. Rather not list your address on a public form? We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest, and our name and address will go here.
  • Purpose. Don’t worry; it’s not as existential as it sounds. Your “purpose” is really just your business activities. This section already includes a general business purpose, so a few words describing what your business does (art restoration, cement manufacturing, etc.) is sufficient.
  • Franchise Tax Contact Info. The state really wants to ensure your corporation will receive your franchise tax form, so they request a bunch of contact information. You’re only required to put your entity name, address and phone number.

How can I keep my personal information off the public record?

It’s a fact that all the information provided in the Articles of Incorporation will become part of the public record. When your personal information is accessible by anyone, it opens your business up to hassles like junk mail.

To keep your information off the public record, you can hire a registered agent company—like us. We’ll list our address on this form so you don’t have to. Your personal addresses will stay off the public record and away from prying eyes.

How can I submit the Arkansas Articles of Incorporation?

You can file Arkansas articles via the Arkansas Secretary of State website or by mail. Mailed filings must be submitted to the following address:

Arkansas Secretary of State
1401 W Capitol
Suite 250
Little Rock, AR 72201

Start Your Arkansas Corporation Today!

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4. Get an EIN

You can get an EIN directly from the IRS. The application is free, and most businesses can apply online. However, if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to submit a paper application form. Can’t bear to fill out yet another application? Hire Northwest to get your EIN for you. Just add on EIN service during checkout when you sign up for our incorporation service.

Learn how to get an EIN for your corporation.

Why does my Arkansas corporation need an EIN?

The IRS requires corporations to get an EIN for their federal tax filings. You may also be asked for your EIN when opening a bank account, securing a loan, or applying for local business permits and licenses.

How do I get an EIN for my corporation?

You can get an EIN directly from the IRS. The application is free, and most businesses can apply online. However, if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to submit a paper application form. Can’t bear to fill out yet another application? Hire Northwest to get your EIN for you. Just add on EIN service during checkout when you sign up for our incorporation service.

5. File the Beneficial Ownership Information Report

Most US corporations are required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). On this report, you’ll need to provide some information about your corporation, its beneficial owners, and (for new corporations) the company applicant.

  • Beneficial Owner: Anyone with at least 25% ownership stake in your company. Also includes anyone with significant control over company operations, such as your CEO, CFO, or General Counsel.
  • Company Applicant: The individual who filed your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. (Note: Corporations formed prior to 2024 don’t need to include company applicant information.)

You can file the BOI Report online via FinCEN’s E-Filing system or hire us to handle it for you for $9.

What's the deadline for filling the BOI Report?

The deadline for your first BOI Report will depend on when you incorporated. If your company was formed…

  • Before 2024, you need to file by January 1, 2025.
  • In 2024, you must file within 90 days of incorporation.
  • In 2025 or later, file within 30 days of incorporation.

What information is required on the BOI Report?

New corporations must provide information about each beneficial owner and their company applicant. (Corporations formed before 2024 don’t need to give company applicant information.) You’ll also need to provide some basic company information.

Beneficial owner and company applicant information: 

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Residential or business street address
  • Personal identification document (such as a driver’s license or passport), including the ID number

Company information:

  • Legal business name
  • Any DBAs/fictitious business names
  • Business street address
  • State of incorporation
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Will I need to update the BOI Report?

Yes. Any time information that’s required on the BOI Report changes, (such as the chief officers, company name, or address) you’ll need to file an updated report within 30 days. You can file your updated report for free through FinCEN’s E-fiing system

Does information on the BOI Report go on the public record?

No. Unlike the information on your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation, your BOI Report won’t be publicly available. The only groups that will be able to access BOI Report information are US government agencies, law enforcement, and financial institutions (for customer verification purposes).

Are there exemptions from the BOI Report?

Yes, there are 23 classes of exemption from the BOI Report. The most common exemptions include:

  • Large operating companies
  • Most financial companies, such as banks and credit unions
  • Investment companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Insurance companies registered with a state or federal agency
  • Public utilities companies registered with a state or federal agency
  • Tax-exempt entities

6. Write Corporate Bylaws

Bylaws are the internal rules you set for your business. They put into writing how decisions will be made and who gets to make those decisions. All the major organizational processes and procedures for your corporation will go in your bylaws.

For more on Arkansas Corporate Bylaws (including a free Corporate Bylaws template), see our Arkansas Corporate Bylaws resource.

Do I need bylaws for my Arkansas corporation?

Yes. AR Code § 4-26-809 (2019) states that initial bylaws shall be adopted by the board of directors. You don’t have to submit bylaws to the state though. Corporate bylaws are internal documents you keep with your other corporate records, such as meeting minutes and resolutions.

What should bylaws include?

Corporate bylaws cover basic policies and procedures for issues such as company finances and management. Bylaws should cover a range of topics, answering key questions like those below:

  • Meetings: When and where will meetings for shareholders and directors be held? How many attendees are required to transact business? What are the procedures for voting or proxy voting? How do you call a special meeting? What actions can be taken without a meeting?

  • Stock: How are stock certificates issued and transferred? How is voting affected by issues such as corporate stock owners or fractional shares?

  • Directors and officers: How many directors must there be? Which officer positions are required? What powers do they have? How do you fill a vacancy or remove a director or officer?

  • Finances: What are the procedures for retaining profits, issuing dividends, and paying bills? Who can withdraw money from the corporate bank account or sign checks?

  • Records: Where is the corporate book to be kept? What information will be maintained? How are requests for review or access honored? Can records or copies be kept or distributed digitally?

  • Amendments and emergencies: Who can amend bylaws and how? Can emergency bylaws be adopted in the case of disaster?

Arkansas bylaws can make other provisions as well, assuming additions are in accordance with state law and the Articles of Incorporation. For example, AR Code § 4-26-806 (2019) permits provisions increasing the number of directors needed for a quorum.

How do I write bylaws?

Creating bylaws can be overwhelming—where do you start? Northwest can help. We give you free corporate bylaws when you hire us to form your Arkansas corporation. We know what kinds of topics and questions corporations need to address, and we’ve spent years refining and improving our forms. We offer many other free corporate forms as well, including templates for resolutions and meeting minutes.

7. Hold an Organizational Meeting

An organizational meeting is the first official meeting of the corporation after the business is legally formed with the state. At this meeting, bylaws are adopted, officers are appointed, and any other initial business is conducted. The first meeting minutes should also be recorded and added to your corporate record book.

Are there any special rules for Arkansas organizational meetings?

You’re required to give a minimum of three days notice before holding the meeting by mail. Attendees can, however, waive their required notice. The meeting doesn’t have to be held in Arkansas.

8. Open a Corporate Bank Account

Businesses that mix personal and business finances together risk losing their liability protections, so your corporation will need its own bank account. In addition, a corporate bank account is essential for easily accepting payments, paying bills and holding funds.

How do I open a bank account for my Arkansas corporation?

To open a corporate bank account in Arkansas, you’ll need to bring the following with you to the bank:

  • A copy of the Arkansas corporation’s Articles of Incorporation

  • The corporation’s bylaws

  • The corporation’s EIN

If your bylaws don’t specifically assign the power to open a bank account, you may also want to bring a corporate resolution to open a bank account. The resolution would state that the person going to the bank is authorized by the business to open the account in the name of the corporation. At Northwest, we provide free corporate bank resolutions, along with many other free corporate forms, to help you get started fast.

9. File Arkansas Reports & Taxes

In Arkansas, corporations file an Annual Franchise Tax Report each year. In addition, corporations are subject to state tax requirements, including the state’s corporate income tax.

What is the Arkansas Annual Franchise Tax?

While technically a tax, the Arkansas Annual Franchise Tax also functions as an annual report, as you confirm or update your ownership and contact information at the same time. The franchise tax rate is 0.3% of the value of your corporation’s outstanding stock (minimum $150). This tax is due May 1st each year.

Forget to file? You’ll have to fork over a $25 late fee plus interest penalties. Northwest can help make sure you don’t miss this deadline. When you sign up for our services, we’ll send you reminder notifications so you don’t get stuck with annoying late fees. Or better yet, let us file for you. With our business renewal service, we’ll send you the completed franchise report for you to add your tax info and signature, and then we’ll submit it on your behalf for $100 plus the taxes and fees owed.

What else should I know about Arkansas corporate taxes?

Besides the Annual Franchise Tax (described above), Arkansas corporations pay a corporate net income tax. The Arkansas corporate net income tax rates are:

1%: $0 to $3,000
2%: $3,000 to $6,000
3%: $6,000 to $11,000
5%: $11,000 to $25,000
6%: $25,000 to $100,000
6.5%: $100,000 +

State sales tax is 6.5%, but cities and counties can tack on their own sales taxes as well, making the average total sales tax in Arkansas 8.58%.

Ready to Start a Corporation in Arkansas?