Everything You Need to Know About Arkansas Corporations:
Arkansas Incorporation Options
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How to Incorporate in Arkansas
To start a corporation in Arkansas, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Incorporation with the Arkansas Secretary of State. You can file this document online or by mail. The articles cost $50 to file ($45 online). Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Arkansas corporation.
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.
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.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your corporation name is, you’re ready to file your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the Arkansas 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.
Better yet, skip the form entirely and hire us to incorporate your Arkansas business. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private.
1. Name of Corporation
Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation for one of these words, like “Inc.”
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
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.
6. 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.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your Arkansas Corporation?
Professionals in Arkansas hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent for incorporation—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. Our office is in Mountain Home, AR. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in the Secretary of State Office.
As your registered agent, we list our Mountain Home registered office address on your corporation’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Jonesboro, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding & Business Address
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your corporation in Arkansas. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My Arkansas Corporation Is Formed?
After your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting bylaws, holding your first meeting, opening a bank account, and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
Your federal employer identification number (commonly known as an EIN or FEIN) is similar to a social security number for your business. The IRS assigns these numbers and uses them to easily identify individual corporations on tax filings, including federal corporate income tax returns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
Arkansas Corporation FAQs
How can I submit the Arkansas Articles of Incorporation?
You can file Arkansas articles online or by mail. Mailed filings must be submitted to the following address:
Arkansas Secretary of State
1401 W Capitol
Little Rock, AR 72201
How much does it cost to start an Arkansas corporation?
The online state filing fee for Arkansas Articles of Incorporation is $45. If you mail your Articles, the filing fee jumps to $50.
How long does it take to start an Arkansas corporation?
File online and receive your Certificate of Approval in a day or two. Want to pay more for a slower processing time? Mail your Articles of Incorporation! Mailed filings cost $5 more (plus whatever you’ll pay for printing and mailing costs) and take 1-2 weeks. So, there’s really no reason to mail your filing unless you have to pay with a check or money order.
Does an Arkansas corporation need a business license?
Arkansas doesn’t have a statewide general business license. Some cities and counties have their own licensing requirements though. For example, if you engage in any business in Hot Springs, you’ll need to get a business license there, but if you’re just a little further south in Arkadelphia, there’s no general business license required.
For some license applications you may need an EIN or a certified copy of your Articles of Incorporation. At Northwest, we can streamline the process and get these for you—simply add on these items during checkout.
What is a foreign Arkansas corporation?
A corporation formed outside of Arkansas—but which conducts business in the state—is considered a foreign Arkansas corporation. For example, if you incorporated in Georgia but decide to open a storefront in Arkansas, you would be a foreign Arkansas corporation. This also means you would need to register with the state by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority with the Arkansas Secretary of State. Foreign corporations are required to file the Arkansas Annual Franchise Tax each year as well.
Can Northwest help me form a nonprofit corporation?
Absolutely! We’re happy to start a nonprofit corporation for you. Note that incorporating an Arkansas nonprofit requires a different form although the filing fee is the same.
How can I get an Arkansas phone number for my corporation?
It’s a conundrum: you need a local number to display on your website and give to customers, but you don’t want to make your personal number quite so…public. We get it. And we’ve got you covered with Northwest Phone Service. We can provide you with a virtual phone number in any state—plus unlimited call forwarding and tons of easy-to-use features. You can try Phone Service free for 60 days when you hire us to form your corporation, and maintaining service is just $9 monthly after that. No contract required.
How to Order Arkansas Incorporation Service
Our Arkansas incorporation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
We’ll form your Arkansas corporation for $270 total and include one year of registered agent service, a secure online account filled with business maintenance tools and all the state forms you’ll need, and the lifetime support of our expert Corporate Guides. Just choose Hire Us below, answer a few easy questions about your business, and submit your payment.
Next, we’ll prepare and submit your Arkansas Articles of Incorporation to the Secretary of State. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the Arkansas Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your Arkansas corporation has been legally formed. You can now move on to next steps, like holding your organizational meeting and opening a bank account.