How to Start An LLC in Iowa
To start an LLC in Iowa, you must file a Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Business Services Division. You can file the document online, by mail or by fax. The Certificate of Organization costs $50 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Iowa LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting an Iowa LLC Guide:
Iowa LLC Filing Options
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Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.
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Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization Requirements
To form an Iowa LLC, you must complete and file the Certificate of Organization with the Iowa Business Services Division. 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 Certificate of Organization. Instead, you can create your own Certificate. (Or use a template. Or just let Northwest write it for you.) At minimum, you’ll need to include your LLC’s name, registered agent, registered agent address, organizer and signature. Many LLCs also state whether they’re member or manager-managed. Your Biennial Report later on will request a principal office address as well, so it’s common to include that in your Certificate too.
Your name must include “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or an abbreviation like “LLC.”
Your principal office address must be a street address, not a PO Box. When you hire Northwest, you can keep it simple by using our address—it’s much less annoying than having to remember and update multiple addresses.
You can appoint an individual or a business. We recommend Northwest.
This is the address where your registered agent is going to be available. Our address goes here when you hire us.
Your LLC can be managed either by its members or its managers. Most small LLCs are member-managed, but it’s all about decision-making power. If you’d rather turn over day-to-day decisions to a manager, you can choose a “manager-managed” LLC.
An organizer is the person who puts together your Certificate, signs it, and submits it to the Secretary of State. Your organizer doesn’t have to be a member or manager. Hire Northwest, and we’ll be your organizer.
How much does it cost to start an Iowa LLC?
The state filing fee for your Certificate of Organization is $50. Hire Northwest, and your total out-the-door cost is $275, including the state filing fee, a full year of registered agent service, lifetime customer support, and loads of useful forms to help get your Iowa LLC up and running.
How long does it take to start an Iowa LLC?
Online processing with Iowa’s new Fast Track Filing system is the fastest, typically done in a day. Fax is the next fastest option, usually taking just a bit longer. Or, file by mail, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Maybe you’ll finally have time to make the trek out to see the future birthplace of Captain Kirk in Riverside. (Come on, it’s not just a place for the tourists to boldly go.)
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your Iowa LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does an Iowa LLC need a registered agent?
Yes, you need an Iowa registered agent. One of the very few absolutely required pieces of information you need for your Certificate of Organization is your registered agent’s name and address. The downside of this is that all the information you include in your Certificate becomes part of the permanent public record. If you put your own address, you run the risk of weirdos popping up on your doorstep and junk filling up your mailbox. That’s a big personal price to pay just to save a little money each year.
Hire us and let us put our address instead. We’ll deal with the spam and solicitors, and we’ll be ready and waiting for any service of process—so you don’t have to be. No Iowan wants to be stuck behind a desk 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. How would you bike RAGBRAI? When you hire Northwest, we’re available, so you’re free to run your business. Or go to that book signing. Or tailgating. The point is that it’ll be your time to do what you want with.
Create the Iowa LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need an Operating Agreement?
Yes and no. There isn’t a statute requiring you to have one, and operating agreements aren’t something you file with the state. Instead they’re internal documents—but very important internal documents.
Why is an Operating Agreement important?
Your operating agreement shows how your LLC works, who owns it, how decisions are made, and what happens if you decide to shut it all down. Investors, partners, members, banks and creditors will all want to see your operating agreement. You’ll likely need one just to open a business bank account. Starting a business may be the biggest financial risk of your life—and your operating agreement is not the place to cut corners.
Do I have to write the Operating Agreement?
Not sure where to begin or even what to include? At Northwest, we’ve got you covered. When you hire us to form your Iowa LLC, we include a free operating agreement specific to your management style. We also give you free resolutions, (including initial resolutions). We’re pretty proud of our forms—so much so that we were the first website to hand out free LLC forms, from operating agreements to membership certificates. And unlike many of the imitators that followed our example, we don’t put out junk—we’ve spent years updating and refining our documents. More than a million LLCs have used our free LLCs forms.
Get an Iowa LLC EIN
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
If you have employees or have to file certain federal excise taxes (like Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms returns), you must get an EIN. Even if you’re not obligated to get one, having an EIN is pretty useful. Banks will usually ask for your EIN when you go to open a business bank account. It’s the same with vendors when you go to establish credit. Local tax filings often require your EIN as well. For most situations, you can use your personal social security number instead—although that puts your personal information at greater risk. EINs are free from the IRS, so why not get one just in case? Can’t bear to fill out even one more piece of paperwork? Hire Northwest to apply for an EIN for you.
Open a Bank Account for Your Iowa LLC
To open a bank account for your Iowa LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
- A copy of the Iowa LLC Certificate of Organization
- The LLC operating agreement
- The Iowa LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open business 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 LLC need a business license?
The state of Iowa doesn’t have a general business license—but some Iowa cities have their own licensing requirements. Most cities require licenses for a handful of specific business activities, but a few cities have general business licenses as well. For instance, Bettendorf requires a general business license before engaging in any business in the city.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your Certificate of Organization for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
File Iowa LLC Reports
What is an Iowa LLC Biennial Report?
The Iowa LLC Biennial Report is a form you file every other year to ensure the state has all your most current contact and ownership information. The report is $60 (or $45 if you file online). If you forget to file, you aren’t hit with any late fees—but if your report remains unfiled, the state can dissolve your LLC. It’s nice that you don’t have to file every year, but that makes it all the easier to forget.
We can help you out there—when you sign up for our service at Northwest, we’ll send you reminders to file. You can even hire us to file your reports for you, so you don’t have to think about them at all.
How much does an LLC in Iowa cost each year?
Every other year, Iowa LLCs are required to file a Biennial Report which costs $45 online or $60 for paper filings.
Pay the LLC Taxes
What are the Iowa LLC taxes?
There are currently 9 brackets for Iowa personal net income tax rates:
0.36%: $0 to $1,572
0.72%: $1.573 to $3,145
2.43%: $3,146 to $6,291
4.50%: $6,292 to $14,156
6.12%: $14,157 to $23,594
6.48%: $23,595 to $31,459
6.8%: $31,460 to $47,189
7.92%: $47,190 to $70,784
These brackets will undergo some changes over the next few years. In May 2018, Iowa passed a massive tax reform law that will be implemented in phases over the next few years. The personal net income tax rate will decrease a bit, eventually topping out at 8.53%.
Sales tax in Iowa is between 6 and 7%. The state sales tax is 6%, but cities and counties can add up to 1%, for a maximum possible sales tax of 7%.
For a general tax overview, check out our free Iowa taxes page. We also offer guides for managing your LLC, free legal forms, and loads of tips. And this is just what we offer for free—just imagine what we do for our clients.