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District of Columbia Corporation Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Corporation in the District of Columbia

To start a District of Columbia corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and pay a $220 minimum filing fee. While this filing creates your business, it’s really just the first step to launching your District of Columbia corporation. The complete steps to incorporating in DC are as follows:

  1. File District of Columbia Articles of Incorporation
  2. Pay the DCRA a minimum of $220
  3. Wait to receive your approved Articles
  4. Get a federal tax ID (EIN) for the corporation
  5. Create District of Columbia corporate bylaws
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a District of Columbia corporate bank account
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DC Articles of Incorporation free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Documents & Forms

How to File District of Columbia Articles of Incorporation

To form a DC corporation, you file the Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new corporation
Step 2 Decide how many shares of stock to authorize
Step 3 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 4 Choose an incorporator to sign and submit your Articles
Step 5 File online and pay with a credit card or mail to the DCRA Corporations Division at PO Box 92300, Washington DC 20090 with a check or money order

How Long Does it Take to Start a District of Columbia Corporation?

1

Fastest (1 Day)

File in person or online and add a $100 expediting fee.

3

Almost Fastest (3 Days)

File online and add a $50 expediting fee.

15

Standard (15 Days)

Skip all the expediting fees and submit online.

15+

Archaic (Eventually)

Forgo online filing and print and mail your Articles to the DCRA. In a few weeks or maybe a month, someone will be nice enough to manually enter all your data into the system and process your information.

What is the Cost of a DC Corporation?

The DCRA charges a base filing fee of $220 to file Articles of Incorporation. However, if the value of your authorized capital is more than $100K, the fee increases to $550. (More than $500K? The fee goes to $1100. More than $1 million? The fee tops out at $1650).

Hire Northwest and your total, out-the-door cost is $445 for up to $100K in authorized capital. Need it expedited? Total cost is $495 for 3-day expediting or $545 for 1-day expediting.

How Much Does a Corporation in the District of Columbia Cost Each Year?

Every other year, DC corporations have to shell out $300 to the DCRA for the District of Columbia Biennial Report.

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What is the District of Columbia Biennial Report?

Your District of Columbia Biennial Report is a form you file with the DCRA to confirm or update your contact and ownership information. The report and $300 filing fee are due April 1st every other year. Miss the deadline? You’ll incur a $100 late fee and lose your good standing.

At Northwest, we can help you stay in compliance (and avoid annoying late fees). When you hire us as your registered agent, we send you reminders to file your report. Better yet, forgo this headache entirely and hire us to file your Biennial Reports for you.

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What are the taxes for a District of Columbia corporation?

The District of Columbia has a corporate net income tax called a “corporate franchise tax.” The tax rate is 8.25%. There’s a minimum tax of $250 (or $1000 if your gross receipts are over $1 million).

Have an S corporation? Although S corporations are treated as pass-through entities on the federal level, DC doesn’t treat S corporations the same way. Instead, DC taxes S corporations like regular corporations. What does that mean for you? While you may not have to pay a federal corporate income tax, you still have to pay DC’s corporate income tax.

DC’s sales tax is a flat 5.75%—cities and counties can’t tack on their own sales taxes. However, specific goods and services (especially those aimed at tourists and visitors) have their own rates. For example, commercial parking has an 18% sales tax. The rate for hotels is nearly as steep at 14.8%.

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Is a Registered Agent Required for a District of Columbia Corporation?

Absolutely. You’re required to list your District of Columbia registered agent—and the address where they’ll be available to accept legal notifications—in your Articles of Incorporation.

So who should you appoint? You could try to save a few dollars by appointing yourself (after all, you don’t get rich giving away money). Being your own agent, however, can be quite a headache. The address you list becomes part of the permanent record of your DC corporation—and a prime target for data-sellers and spammers. You’ll also have to be regularly available at the listed address during business hours in case a process server shows up. Missing legal notifications can end up costing much more than a registered agent fee.

A better option? Hire Northwest. Our address will go in your Articles (instead of yours). We’re in the business of being available—and of getting you your notices ASAP. We accept, scan and send notices the same day. We’re ready and waiting in the office so you can spend your time doing what you really want to do: running your business.

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DC Corporation Versus DC LLC:

Unless your corporation has a lot of authorized capital, filing fees are the same for District of Columbia corporations and LLCs: $220 for Articles and $300 for Biennial Reports. The exception is for corporations with over $100K in authorized capital—they’ll pay more to file Articles. Taxes tend to be pretty similar as well. The minimum corporate franchise tax is $250. Some people think forming an LLC will mean no state-level taxes. Nope—DC has an “unincorporated business tax” that is (not coincidentally) $250.

Operations, however, can be pretty different for LLCs and corporations. Corporations typically appeal to large businesses—their familiar, formal structure makes managing easier on a bigger scale. Stocks too are more familiar and quite flexible—they give corporations options LLCs don’t have, like offering preferred stock to more cautious investors. Corporations have been around for hundreds of years, and their long history means years of legal precedence—making it easier to navigate complex legal waters. LLCs, on the other hand, are common choices for small businesses because they’re a little simpler to operate and understand. Thinking about a DC LLC? Here’s information on starting an LLC in the District of Columbia.

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Do I Need a Tax ID Number (EIN) for a District of Columbia Corporation?

Yes, your District of Columbia corporation is required to get a federal tax ID (also called an EIN or FEIN) for federal tax filings. After you launch your business, you’ll also find yourself using your EIN again and again for a surprising number of things—not just federal taxes. Your bank will almost certainly request it when you go to open a corporate bank account, and you’ll likely need it for local tax registrations and applications for permits and licenses. You can apply for an 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 services.

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Does a District of Columbia Corporation Need a Business License?

Yes. If you plan to engage in any business in DC, you will have to get a business license. Unfortunately, licensing your DC corporation is not exactly straightforward. Fees and license types vary widely, depending on your licensing category. A basic business license typically lasts 2-4 years and will set you back at least $100.

Does a District of Columbia Corporation Need Bylaws?

Yes, your District of Columbia corporation needs bylaws, but they aren’t something you’ll have to submit to any DC agency. Your corporation’s public filings (like your Articles of Incorporation and Biennial Reports) only have basic information. DC doesn’t really need (or want) more information—they just want to be able to keep tabs on you and make sure you pay all your taxes and fees.

However, there’s a lot of essential information your business still needs to put into writing (but that doesn’t need to go in a public document). You’ll have to decide who’s on the board of directors, how long they’ll stay, how they’ll be replaced, and how many board members are needed to pass a resolution. You’ll need to decide who your officers are and what their duties will be. You’ll also need to lay out what classes or series of shares you’ll have. All this information goes in your DC corporation’s bylaws. Bylaws are a private, internal document—but one you’ll occasionally need to present to those outside your business. Your bank will need your bylaws when you open a corporate account, and potential investors and partners will want to check them out as well.

Bylaws are critical—which is why we give you free corporate bylaws when you hire Northwest to form your District of Columbia corporation. We’ll give you other key forms as well, from resolutions to meeting minute templates. We’ve spent years refining and developing our forms to ensure our clients have everything they need and don’t waste their time agonizing over paperwork. Take a look at the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.

What is the District of Columbia Corporation Statute?

DC Code – Title 29, Chapter 3 Business Corporations

DC Corporation Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Business Name

Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited,” or an abbreviation for one of these words. Tip: Most businesses keep it simple with “Corp” or “Inc.”

Authorized Shares

List how many shares you want to create for your District of Columbia corporation. You have to list at least one. You can distribute some or all of these shares later on at your organizational meeting. You’ll also need to include the par value of each share. Par value is the “face value” of a share (what’s listed on stock certificates) and is typically the lowest price at which a share will be sold.

Registered Agent

List either an individual DC resident (like yourself) or a business that provides DC registered agent service (like Northwest). Tip: We recommend Northwest.

Registered Agent Address

This District of Columbia street address will become part of the permanent public record of your DC corporation. Tip: Hire Northwest and our address will go here.

Miscellaneous Provisions

If you need or want to add extra information (for example, you want to be registered as a benefit corporation), you can enter that information here. Tip: Feel free to skip this section if you don’t have anything special to add—it’s optional.

District of Columbia Incorporator

“Incorporator” may sound like a fancy title, but it’s really just the person authorized to sign and submit your Articles. It doesn’t have to be a director, officer, or anyone in your DC corporation. Incorporators need to include their name, address, signature and date. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®