Everything You Need to Know About Montana Corporations:
Montana Incorporation Options
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How to Incorporate in Montana
To start a corporation in Montana, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. You must register a Montana ePass account online and file this document through the website—the form shown is only an example. The articles cost a minimum of $70 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Montana corporation.
Per MT Code § 35-14-501 (2019), every Montana corporation must appoint a 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 https://biz.sosmt.gov/search/business 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 Montana Articles of Incorporation. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the Montana 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 filing by yourself entirely and hire us to incorporate your Montana business. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. And for the cheapest way to start a business? Pay just $32 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
1. Effective Date
Skip this section if you want your business to start right away, but if you want to start on a specific date (such as the start of tax season), you can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future.
2. Corporate Type
There are a few different types of corporation you can choose from: Benefit, General, Close, Professional or Close Professional. Most corporations are “General For Profit Corporations.”
The other types of corporations are governed by different acts in the Montana Code and have additional restrictions and requirements. Generally speaking, professional corporations are for state-license service providers (like doctors and lawyers), benefit corporations have a business purpose with a public benefit, and close corporations are limited to 25 shareholders and typically restrict share transfers.
3. Business Name
Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited” or an abbreviation of one of these words. Most corporations keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”
4. Registered Agent
For your Montana registered agent, you can choose an “existing agent” (like Northwest) or “new agent” (like yourself or someone in your corporation) and enter their name. Tick the box to confirm that your registered agent has consented to serve this position. Tip: We recommend Northwest for your registered agent.
5. Registered Office
If you chose “new agent,” you’ll need to enter the Montana street address where the agent will be available to accept legal notifications for your corporation. This information will become part of the public record of your business.
6. Business Address of Principal Office
Where would you like the state to send your corporation’s mail (besides legal notifications—those go to your registered agent)? Tip: Keep things simple with one business address for everything. When you hire Northwest as your registered agent, you can use our Montana address as your mailing address.
If you want your corporation to continue indefinitely, select “perpetual.” If you want the corporation to end at some point, enter a future end date or the number of years to exist. Tip: Most corporations choose “perpetual.”
You have the option to skip this box—it’s not required to submit your articles, assuming you’re creating a General For-Profit Corporation. If you want to include a purpose, it can be general (“engage in any lawful activity in the State of Montana”) or specific (“prepare and sell baked goods”).
9. Tribal Designation
You can optionally indicate if your corporation is a tribal business associated with a tribe listed in the drop down menu, or skip this section.
10. Montana Incorporator
Your incorporator signs and submits your Articles of Incorporation and must include their name and address. Your incorporator doesn’t have to be a director or anyone in your corporation. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest.
If you want, you can choose to list the name and address of your Montana corporation’s directors, but this is optional.
12. Authorized Shares
Click “Add Share Class.” For the share name, choose “Common,” “Preferred” or “Other” and then list the number of shares you’re creating. Next to “Share Par Value,” list the value of each share. “Par value” is also called “face value”—it’s the price listed on stock certificates, and it’s typically the lowest value at which a share will be traded.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your Montana Corporation?
Professionals in Montana 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. We own our own building in Kalispell, MT. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in the Secretary of State’s office. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Kalispell registered office address on your corporation’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Bozeman, 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 and Business Address
We already accept your legal mail—so why not take it a step further? In every state, we include limited digital mail forwarding for your regular mail too (10 pieces of regular mail a year; $15 a doc after that). Plus, you can list our address as your business address. That means you can have all business mail routed through our office. With both mail forwarding and a business address included, you get a level of security unmatched in the formation industry.
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 Montana. 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 Montana Corporation Is Formed?
After your Montana 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 Montana corporation need an EIN?
The IRS requires corporations to get an EIN for their federal tax filings, and the Montana Department of Revenue requires an EIN for their business registration. 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. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
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.
Do I need bylaws for my Montana corporation?
Yes. State statute MT Code § 35-14-206 (2019) notes that initial bylaws shall be adopted either by the incorporators or the corporation’s 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?
Montana bylaws can make other provisions as well, assuming additions are in accordance with state law. For example, MT Code § 35-14-1602 (2019) states that Montana bylaws cannot abolish or limit a shareholder’s right to inspect corporate record as granted by that section.
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 Montana 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 Montana organizational meetings?
Attendees can waive their required notice in writing. The meeting doesn’t have to be held in Montana.
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 Montana corporation?
To open a corporate bank account in Montana, you’ll need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the Montana 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 Montana Reports & Taxes
In Montana, corporations file an annual report each year. Tax-wise, the state also has a corporate income tax.
What is the Montana Annual Report?
How much is the Montana Annual Report?
There is a flat fee of $20 to file an annual report in Montana.
When is the Montana Annual Report due?
The filing is due by April 15. If you miss the deadline, an additional $15 late fee is applied, and corporations that remain delinquent face dissolution by the state.
These filings can be easy to forget—which is why we send our clients automatic reminders for your Montana Annual Report filings. Or better yet, let us file for you. With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about Montana corporate taxes?
Montana corporations must pay a corporate income tax, a flat 6.75% rate on gross taxable income with a $50 minimum tax.
Montana is one of the few states that doesn’t have a general sales tax. Although a few specific products and services are taxed (like tobacco and car rentals), customers pay 0% sales tax at the counter for most items.
Do corporations have to register with the Montana Department Of Revenue?
Not necessarily. You’ll need to set up withholding if needed, and you can register for your corporate income tax via Montana’s TransAction Portal, but registration isn’t required to pay corporate taxes. If you do need or want to register, you’ll need your EIN.
Montana Corporation FAQs
How can I submit the Montana Articles of Incorporation?
You must file Montana articles online through the ePass Montana website.
How much does it cost to start a Montana corporation?
At least $70. The base filing fee is $70, but priority handling adds $20 to the fee, and expedited handling (one-hour processing) adds $100 for a total of $170.
Hire us for a one-time fee of $295, including the state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, and more. Need it faster, with priority handling? Your total cost is $315 for 1-day filing. Or, pay just $32 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start a Montana corporation?
Your documents will be ready in 24 hours or less with priority handling. You can also rush with expedited handling and have it filed in an hour, if you’re willing to pay an extra $100. Filing your documents through standard handling can take up to 10 days to process.
If you hire Northwest to start your corporation, we typically have your Montana corporation formed within five days for standard filing and one day for priority.
Does a Montana corporation need a business license?
There’s no general, statewide business license required in Montana, but some cities and counties have local requirements. For example, Butte bases its fee for general business licenses on the number of employees, starting at $35 for 0-2, and as much as $200 for a business with more than one employee. Meanwhile, Missoula determines license fees based on several factors, including whether a business is commercial or home-based and on the number of employees—topping out at $3,315 for a commercial business with 85 full time employees.
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 Montana corporation?
A corporation formed outside of Montana—but which conducts business in the state—is considered a foreign Montana corporation. For example, if you incorporated in Idaho but decide to open a storefront in Montana, you would be a foreign Montana corporation. This also means you would need to register with the state by filing a Certificate of Authority with the Montana Secretary of State. Foreign corporations are required to file the Montana Annual Report each year as well.
Can Northwest help me form a nonprofit corporation?
Absolutely! We’re happy to start a nonprofit corporation for you. Incorporating a Montana nonprofit requires a lower filing fee, just $20. Montana nonprofits must file an annual report each year, just like a for-profit corporation.
What if I need Montana mail forwarding?
Mail forwarding is important for many business owners – including those who form corporations in Montana but live outside the state, or those who prefer to not have personal documents like bank statements delivered to the office where anyone can open them. At Northwest, we include limited mail forwarding with our registered agent and formation services. For more robust needs, we also offer unlimited mail forwarding with a unique suite number via our premium Montana mail forwarding service.
How to Order Montana Incorporation Service
Our Montana incorporation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
We offer flexibility with two different options for payment. You can pay everything up front, which includes a full year of registered agent service. Or, pay just $32 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
Next, we’ll prepare and submit your Montana 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 Montana Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your Montana corporation has been legally formed. You can now move on to next steps, like holding your organizational meeting and opening a bank account.