Iowa Incorporation Services
To start a corporation in Iowa, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. You can file the document online, by mail or by fax. The Articles of Incorporation cost $50 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Iowa corporation. However, to actually ready the corporation to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting an Iowa Corporation Guide:
Iowa Corporation Filing Options
Skip the state fees! Get an Iowa corporation and the best of our services today. Includes EIN, hassle-free maintenance, business address & mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, local Corporate Guide® service, and everything you need to operate at full capacity.
Do It Yourself
Sign up for a free account and use our online tools to start your Iowa corporation today. Includes Iowa incorporation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free.
Pay in Full
Includes Iowa corporation, business address & free mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, lifetime support from local Corporate Guides® and a year of registered agent service.
Iowa Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To form an Iowa corporation, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Iowa doesn’t have a standard form you can download for your Articles of Incorporation. Instead, you create your own Articles. (Or use a template. Or just let Northwest write your Articles for you.) At minimum, you’ll need to include your corporation’s name, number of authorized shares, registered agent, registered office, and incorporator.
Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited” or an abbreviation of one of these words. Tip: Most corporations keep it simple with “Corp” or “Inc.”
List how many shares you want to create. You have to create at least one. You can distribute some or all of these shares later on at your organizational meeting.
List the individual Iowa resident or business (but not your own) that you authorize to accept your corporation’s legal notices. Tip: Want expert, hassle-free registered agent service? Hire Northwest.
This is the Iowa street address where your registered agent will be regularly available to accept legal notifications. Like all the information in your Articles, this address will become part of the permanent public record of your Iowa corporation. Tip: Prefer to avoid the spam and solicitors that come with a publicly-listed address? List our address here when you hire Northwest as your registered agent.
Your incorporator is the person you authorize to sign and submit your Iowa Articles of Incorporation. The incorporator will need to include their name, address and signature. Your incorporator doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone in your corporation. Tip: When you hire Northwest to form your Iowa corporation, we’ll be your incorporator.
How much does it cost to start an Iowa corporation?
The Iowa Secretary of State charges a $50 filing fee to submit your Articles of Incorporation.
Hire Northwest, and your total, out-the-door cost is $275. This includes state filing fees, a full year of registered agent service, and all the corporate documents you need to open a business bank account.
How long does it take to start an Iowa corporation?
The fastest method is creating an Iowa Fast Track Filing account to submit online—you’ll get your approval within a day. Note that the online system doesn’t have a set form, so you’ll have to create your own Articles of Incorporation and upload them. If you forgo online filing and mail your Articles, it will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for processing.
If you hire Northwest to start your corporation, we file online and typically have your Iowa corporation formed within 24 hours.
Does an Iowa corporation need a registered agent?
Yes. In your Articles of Incorporation, you’re required to include a few key pieces of information, including an Iowa registered agent and registered office. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire anyone. You could always be your own registered agent—although listing your own name and address comes with a few drawbacks. Your Articles and other business entity filings are public documents, so any information you list becomes a hot commodity for data sellers. At best, you’ll end up with a mailbox full of junk. Registered agents also need to be available at the address listed during business hours. You have meetings to attend and errands to run—that can be tough to do when you’re stuck in the office.
A better option? Consider hiring a commercial registered agent service like Northwest. When you sign up for our services, you can use our address and information throughout your Articles of Incorporation. No need to worry about junk mail or unwanted visitors on your doorstep. We’ll also accept, scan and send you any service of process the same day. You can stay on top of your business, wherever you are—whether that’s in a board meeting or on a roller coaster at Adventureland.
Create Bylaws for Your Iowa Corporation
Do I need bylaws?
Absolutely. Bylaws define how your corporation works internally.
Why are corporate bylaws important?
Your bylaws say who’s on the board of directors, how long they get to stay there, how they can be replaced, and what their powers and duties are. They even dictate how many board members are needed to vote on resolutions. Bylaws also spell out the details of your corporation’s stock, such as stock classes and voting shares of stock. Bylaws list the officers of your corporation and who is authorized to act on behalf of the corporation in different situations. Altogether, this collection of decisions define who has power over what—making your bylaws the single most important internal document of your Iowa corporation.
How do I begin writing bylaws?
There’s a lot at stake, and it can be tough to know where to begin. That’s why Northwest includes free corporate bylaws when your hire us to form your Iowa corporation. We help form businesses every day, so we know how important it is to get started on the right foot. We’ve spent years refining and improving all our free forms—bylaws, resolutions, record-keeping templates and more. Take a look at the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.
Get an EIN for Your Iowa Corporation
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
Yes, the IRS requires corporations to obtain an EIN for their federal tax filings. Your EIN will come in handy for other things as well, particularly as you’re setting up your Iowa corporation. You’ll typically need your EIN to open a corporate bank account, apply for permits and licenses, or register for local taxes. You can get your EIN directly from the IRS for no fee.
Prefer to skip the extra paperwork? Hire Northwest to get your EIN for you. Just add on EIN service during checkout when you sign up for our formation services.
Open a Bank Account for Your Iowa Corporation
To open a corporate bank account, you will need to bring the following to the bank:
- A copy of the Iowa corporation’s Articles of Incorporation
- The Iowa corporation’s bylaws
- The Iowa 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 that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the business to open the account in the name of the corporation.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open corporate 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 an Iowa corporation need a business license?
Iowa doesn’t have a general statewide business license, and most cities and counties don’t either (although there are always a few exceptions—if you engage in any business in the City of Bettendorf, for example, you’ll need a general business license). Specific business activities (from tree-trimming to door-to-door sales) may require permits or licenses.
File Iowa Corporation Reports
What is an Iowa Biennial Report?
Your Iowa Biennial Report is basically how the state of Iowa keeps tabs on your business. On the report, you confirm or update your contact and ownership information. The report and $45 fee ($60 by mail) are due to the Iowa Secretary of State by April 1st of even numbered years. On one hand, it’s nice that you don’t have to file the report every year. On the other hand, two years is a long time—long enough to easily forget about this filing entirely. While there aren’t any late fees, if you’re more than a couple months late, the state can dissolve your corporation.
Northwest can help you ensure you remember your filings and stay compliant. When you hire us as your registered agent, we send you reminder notifications for your reports. Want to put your mind completely at ease? You can even hire us to file your Biennial Reports for your Iowa corporation, and just forget about this annoying task entirely.
How much does a corporation in Iowa cost each year?
Every other year, your Iowa corporation will shell out $45 online ($60 by mail) to file an Iowa Biennial Report.
Pay Corporate Taxes
What are the taxes for an Iowa corporation?
The Iowa corporate net income tax rates are:
6%: $0 to $25,000
8%: $25,001 to $100,000
10%: $100,001 to $250,000
12%: over $250,000
Most corporations pay the rates above, but some high-income corporations may be subject to Iowa’s Alternative Minimum Tax instead. Essentially, the AMT recalculates your taxable income base through a series of complex adjustments and then applies a tax rate of 7.2%. Corporations pay whichever is higher—the regular corporate income tax or the AMT.
State sales tax is 6%, but municipalities can add up to 1% more in local sales taxes, making the average total sales tax rate 6.862%.