Kentucky Incorporation Services
To start a corporation in Kentucky, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Incorporation cost $50 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Kentucky corporation. However, to actually ready the corporation to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a Kentucky Corporation Guide:
Kentucky Corporation Filing Options
Skip the state fees! Get a Kentucky 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 Kentucky corporation today. Includes Kentucky incorporation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free.
Pay in Full
Includes Kentucky corporation, business address & free mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, lifetime support from local Corporate Guides® and a year of registered agent service.
Kentucky Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To form a Kentucky corporation, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the Kentucky Secretary of State. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation of one of these words. Tip: Most corporations keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”
List the number of shares you’d like to create. You must create at least one share. Tip: Want multiple classes or series of shares? You won’t be able to use the paper form; you’ll have to draft your own Articles so you can specify the rights and limitations for each class or series.
This Kentucky street address is where your registered agent will be available to accept service of process. This address, like all the information in your Articles, will become part of the permanent public record of your Kentucky corporation. Tip: Hire Northwest and our Kentucky address will go here.
Your registered agent can either be a business (but not your own) or an individual Kentucky resident (such as yourself). Tip: Wouldn’t it be wild if we didn’t recommend Northwest at this point?
This is the address where you’ll receive official mail (besides legal notifications—those go to your registered agent). Tip: Want to avoid checking and updating multiple addresses? When you hire Northwest as your registered agent, you can use our Kentucky address as your principal office address.
Your incorporator signs and submits your Kentucky Articles of Incorporation. Your incorporator doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone in your corporation—just someone you authorize to sign off on your Articles. An incorporator has to include their name and mailing address. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest.
Skip this section if you want your Kentucky corporation to begin upon filing. Prefer to push off the start date of your business a bit (maybe you’re currently at the tail end of a tax period)? You can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future. Tip: Most corporations skip this section.
How much does it cost to start a Kentucky corporation?
At least $50. The base filing fee for Articles of Incorporation is $40, but Kentucky also has an Organization Tax Fee that must be paid at the same time. The fee is $10 for up to 1,000 shares. Want to authorize more than 1,000 shares? You’ll need to contact the Office of the Secretary of State for the total filing fee due.
Hire Northwest to form your Kentucky corporation and your total, out-the-door cost is $275 for up to 1,000 shares. This includes state filing fees, a full year of registered agent service, and all the corporate forms you need to open a business bank account.
How long does it take to start a Kentucky corporation?
Most Kentucky Articles of Incorporation are processed the same business they are filed with the
Kentucky Secretary of State.
If you hire Northwest to start your corporation, we file online and typically have your Kentucky corporation formed within the same day.
Does a Kentucky corporation need a registered agent?
Absolutely. The Commonwealth of Kentucky requires you to appoint and maintain a Kentucky registered agent. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire someone. You could be your own registered agent. The fancy title, however, comes with a couple major drawbacks. If you list your own address on public documents like your Articles of Incorporation, that information becomes part of the permanent public record of your Kentucky corporation. You’ll lose out on privacy and gain a mountain of junk mail—not the best trade off. Also, odds are you won’t be in the office all the time. You’re supposed to be available during business hours, but you’ll have meetings, appointments or just time off. And when you upgrade to a new office? You’ll be stuck paying a $10 fee each time you submit a Statement of Change to the Kentucky Secretary of State.
A wiser investment? Hire Northwest as your registered agent. We’ll be ready and waiting so you don’t have to be. Go ahead and take off for a few days. (Have you seen Mammoth Cave National Park? It’s amazing.) We’ll scan and send you any service of process the same day. Plus, our address will go on your public documents and stay the same as your Kentucky corporation grows and changes.
Create Bylaws for Your Kentucky Corporation
Do I need bylaws?
Yes, your Kentucky corporation needs 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.
Why are corporate bylaws important?
In life, some critical decisions are easy (Wildcats or Cardinals?). Business decisions, however, are not so easy to figure out without careful consideration. Sometimes, even figuring out the right questions to ask can be difficult. Northwest can help here. When you hire us to form your Kentucky corporation, we give you free corporate bylaws. We know what kinds of topics and questions corporations need to address: who will be on the board of directors (not to mention how long they’ll stay, how they’ll be replaced and how many members are needed to pass resolutions), how you’ll elect officers (and what their rights and duties will be), and what kind of shares you’ll authorize (including what rights and limitations they’ll have).
How do I begin writing bylaws?
We know that organizing your new Kentucky corporation can be overwhelming, so we’ve taken much of the guesswork out of the process with our free forms. In addition to bylaws, we also give you forms for resolutions, meeting minutes and more. Paperwork is one of the annoying parts of starting and maintaining a business—but it’s also incredibly important. Let us help you start out on the right foot. Check out the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.
Get an EIN for Your Kentucky Corporation
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
Yes, your Kentucky corporation must get an EIN—the IRS requires corporations to have these tax IDs for federal tax filings. You’ll also need your EIN for local taxes, permits, licenses, and registrations. For example, if you’re doing business in Louisville, you’re required to provide your EIN when registering for a Louisville Metro occupational tax account number.
You can get your EIN directly from the IRS for no fee. Or, skip the extra paperwork and 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 Kentucky Corporation
To open a corporate bank account, you will need to bring the following to the bank:
- A copy of the Kentucky corporation’s Articles of Incorporation
- The Kentucky corporation’s bylaws
- The Kentucky 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 a Kentucky corporation need a business license?
The Commonwealth of Kentucky doesn’t have a general, statewide business license, but many cities and counties have their own business licensing requirements. These requirements are often closely tied to local occupational taxes, a popular form of tax in Kentucky. Occupational taxes vary, but can be imposed on earnings, receipts or profits. These taxes are a staple across the state, from Ashland to Mayfield.
To give you an idea, just in Jefferson County alone, Jeffersontown, Louisville, Shively, St. Matthews and West Buechel all impose an occupational tax. Before engaging in any business in the area, businesses have to register for the occupational tax by submitting a business license application or a business registration form. For instance, if you plan to engage in any business in Louisville, your corporation will need to submit a business registration application for a tax account number. You’ll use this number when you file your annual occupational tax. Louisville’s occupational tax rate is currently 2.2% of income earned within the area.
File Kentucky Corporation Reports
What is a Kentucky Annual Report?
Your Kentucky Annual Report is a form you submit to the Secretary of State each year to update your corporation’s ownership information and confirm contact information. (Note that you can’t actually update contact info in your report. If you need to update your principal address, registered agent or registered agent address, you’ll have to file a separate Statement of Change, which comes with its own $10 fee.) The Kentucky Annual Report and $15 fee are due June 30th each year. Fail to file? After 60 days, the state will dissolve your corporation.
At Northwest, we help ensure our clients stay in compliance and avoid frustrating penalties. We’ll send you reminders to file your Annual Report. Prefer to cross this task off your “to do” list entirely? Hire us to file your Annual Report for your Kentucky corporation for just $115.
How much does a corporation in Kentucky cost each year?
$15. Every year, your Kentucky corporation is required to submit a Kentucky Annual Report, which comes with a $15 filing fee.
Pay Corporate Taxes
What are the taxes for a Kentucky corporation?
Kentucky corporations pay both a corporate net income tax and a special state tax called the Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET). The Kentucky corporate net income tax rates are:
4%: $0 to $50,000
5%: $50,001 to $100,000
6%: over $100,000
The LLET is a gross receipts tax that applies to businesses with limited liability, like corporations and LLCs. The LLET rate is $950 for every $1 million in gross receipts or $7,500 for every $1 million in gross profits, whichever is lower. There’s a minimum LLET of $175.
The state sales tax is a flat 6%. While most states allow cities and counties to tack on additional sales taxes, this isn’t the case for Kentucky—customers will pay 6% at the register, no matter whether they’re in Covington or Bowling Green.