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Iowa Corporation Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Corporation in Iowa

To start an Iowa corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State and pay a $50 filing fee. While this filing creates your business, it’s really just the first step to launching your Iowa corporation. The complete steps to incorporating in Iowa are as follows:

  1. File Iowa Articles of Incorporation
  2. Pay the Secretary of State $50
  3. Wait to receive your approved copy of your Articles of Incorporation
  4. Get a federal tax ID (EIN) for the corporation
  5. Create Iowa corporate bylaws
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get an Iowa corporate bank account
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Iowa Articles of Incorporation requirements. When you're done creating your document, submit it to your state.

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Our free account and tools will walk you through starting and maintaining an Iowa Corporation. All for free.

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Documents & Forms

How to File Iowa Articles of Incorporation

Unlike most states, Iowa doesn’t provide a form for your Articles of Incorporation—you have write them yourself (or hire us to prepare them for you). You are required to include some specific information about your Iowa corporation. At minimum, you’ll need to:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new corporation
Step 2 Decide how many shares you want 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 or by fax (515-242-5953) and pay with a credit card, or mail to the Secretary of State (Business Services Division, Lucas Bldg 1st Floor, 321 E 12th St, Des Moines, IA 50319) with a check or money order payable to “Secretary of State”

How Long Does it Take to Start an Iowa Corporation?


Fast and Easy 1 day

Hire Northwest to create and file your Articles of Incorporation for you. Just answer a few brief questions, sit back and let our Corporate Guides file everything online correctly the first time.


Fast and Not-So-Easy 1 day

Write your own Articles from scratch, create an Iowa Fast Track Filing account, and upload the document to the system.


Archaic 3+ days

Forgo online filing, write and print your Articles, and mail them to the Iowa Secretary of State. In anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, someone will eventually process your filing.

What is the Cost of 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 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.

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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.

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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%.

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Is a Registered Agent Required for an Iowa Corporation?

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.

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Iowa Corporation Versus Iowa LLC:

Costs are pretty even for both Iowa corporations and LLCs. State filing fees are exactly the same: with either entity, you’ll pay $50 to form and $45 to file Biennial Reports online. Even tax costs can be comparable. While people often assume corporations pay more in taxes, tax obligations depend more on tax election than entity type. For example, both corporations and LLCs can elect to be taxed as S corporations, which would make their tax obligations the same.

Besides costs, there are plenty of other factors to consider as well. Whether a corporation or an LLC is a better fit depends largely on what you plan to do with your business. Corporations are often preferred for large businesses or those that hope to scale quickly. Their familiar, formal structure makes managing a large-scale operation easier. Their long legal history also means there’s plenty of court precedent to help guide corporate decision-making. Stocks also give corporations plenty of flexibility for attracting investors or raising capital. LLCs, on the other hand, often appeal to small businesses that value simplicity. Interested in an Iowa LLC? Here’s information on starting an LLC in Iowa.

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Do I Need a Tax ID Number (EIN) for an Iowa Corporation?

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.

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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.

Does an Iowa Corporation Need Bylaws?

Absolutely. Bylaws define how your corporation works internally. They 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.

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.

What is the Iowa Corporation Statute?

Iowa Code – Title XII, Chapter 490 Business Corporations

Iowa Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Create Your Own Articles

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.

Business Name

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.”

Authorized Shares

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.

Registered Agent

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.

Registered Office

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.

Iowa Incorporator

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.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®