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Can I Own More Than One LLC?

You can own as many LLCs as you want, but you’ll have to pay to form and maintain each one. Many entrepreneurs choose to own several LLCs to grow their brands because of the layered liability protection and new business tax incentives. If you’re not sure where to start, keep reading. We’ll go over what you need to know about owning multiple LLCs.

In this article, we'll cover:

LLC Ownership

An owner of a limited liability company (LLC) is the person(s) with the majority hold over the company. This is provided through membership interest. An owner—called a member—is someone with interest in the company, though this can be a business, multiple people, or multiple businesses.

Note: The LLC member is not the same thing as the LLC organizer. An LLC organizer is the person who files formation documents with the state. This can be—and usually is—a member, but it does not have to be.

Read more about LLC organizers versus LLC members.

Why Own Multiple LLCs?

Owning even one business is a lot of work—so why would you own more than one LLC? Below, we go over some of the drawbacks and advantages of starting a new LLC instead of keeping all of your business ventures under one company.

Drawbacks

  • More paperwork
    You have to fill out separate EIN applications, name reservations, operating agreements, articles of organization, sales tax applications, and annual reports for every single business you own. This is a lot to keep track of, especially if you’re the sole member for each LLC.
  • More formation fees
    Consider the cost of starting an LLC in your state. Multiply that by however many businesses you wish to own. This will be your starting fee. The good news? Usually, businesses are opened one at a time, so you probably won’t have to pay this large lump sum all at once.
  • More upkeep fees
    Upkeep fees—including the maintenance for the business, annual report fees, business licensing fees, and more—can really add up. These usually are due at the same time each year, so make sure to consider your cash flow and how frequently these fees will come up for you in your state.
  • Conflicts of interest
    Owning a property management company and starting a second business where you sell office supplies to the management company sounds great, right? Wrong, that’s fraud. As a business owner, you have an obligation to do right for your business’ interest, not your own self interests. Owning multiple businesses, especially if they’re in similar or complimentary industries, can produce conflicts of interest. Keep an eye on this before launching a new LLC.

Advantages

  • Liability protection
    Each LLC has singular liability protection. This is what keeps your personal assets safe from the business’ debts. Likewise, starting a new LLC keeps your original business safe from your new LLC’s debts. This is beneficial for businesses in risky industries. For example, rental property management companies often keep each of their buildings in separate LLCs to protect the overall business. If you have separate rental properties each owned by a separate LLC, if a tenant sues, they can only go after the assets owned by that LLC—the others are safe.
  • Easier to sell
    Selling one part of your business is easier if it’s in its own LLC. Selling an LLC is as simple as transferring membership interest. If you have to divvy up one LLC to separate the department you want to sell from everything else, it can become a complicated, messy, and sometimes expensive process.
  • Broader portfolio
    Many entrepreneurs create businesses in order to build a portfolio. This is a popular way to gain funding for new projects, grow your credibility as an entrepreneur, and open doors for opportunities down the line. Having one successful, profitable LLC is great—having two or three may look even better.
  • Tax incentives
    Many tax incentives, such as Idaho’s Business Advantage tax credits and property tax exemptions, are only available to new businesses. Check with your state and city’s local government to see what business tax incentives are offered to new and small businesses in your community.

How to Own Multiple LLCs

There are a few ways to own multiple LLCs: simply form an LLC in your state, open a series LLC if your state allows them, or convert your current LLC to a series LLC. Technically, a series LLC is one LLC—but it allows you to maintain several separate divisions within one umbrella or parent LLC.

1. Appoint a Registered Agent

A registered agent is a person or company that is authorized to receive service of processes on your business’ behalf. Since this person must be available during regular business hours and receives important legal notices for you, most people choose a registered agent service rather than an individual or doing it themselves.

All businesses in a series LLCs must have the same registered agent, regardless of how many cells are in the umbrella company. When you’re juggling multiple LLCs, hiring a registered agent service can ensure your service of processes will be handled in a professional and timely manner. Plus, having just one company for all your businesses can keep things organized for you. You’ve got (multiple) businesses to run! Let someone else wait for the mail.

Need to hire a registered agent? Get started with our reliable registered agent service today!

2. File Articles of Organization

Each new LLC that you open will require its own Articles of Organization, also called a Certificate of Formation. Your articles are submitted to the Secretary of State or applicable business corporations division in your state.

An LLC’s Articles of Organization cover essential information about your business, such as:

  • Name
  • Principal and mailing addresses
  • Registered agent information
  • Management
  • Members and their initial contribution
  • Purpose
  • Liability
  • Organizer

Requirements and fees changes from state-to-state, so check with your state to make sure you’re in compliance.

Series LLCs do not typically have to file new Articles of Organization in order to form a new business; instead, the umbrella LLC can amend its own articles to include the new cell LLCs.

3. Complete Internal Documents

Internal documents are not filed with the state, but are often required. This includes initial resolutions, LLC membership certificates, and, most commonly, the operating agreement.

The LLC operating agreement is a legal document that details how your LLC will be governed, from day-to-day operations to emergency protocols. The operating agreement typically includes:

  • Article I: Company Formation
  • Article II: Capital Contributions
  • Article III: Profits, Losses, and Distributions
  • Article IV: Management
  • Article V: Compensation
  • Article VI: Bookkeeping
  • Article VII: Transfers
  • Article VIII: Dissolution
  • Certificate of Members
  • Exhibits

Not every state requires an operating agreement, but they are a great resource for solving disputes, providing responses to emergencies, and giving new members or managers a how-to guide on how you want the business run. Especially if you have several LLCs, keeping things as neat and (legally) tidy as possible can be hugely beneficial.

Need a different LLC internal document? Check out our LLC legal forms.

4. Get a Employer Identification Number

Each business, including individual cells in a series LLC, must have their own federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN). Basically, this is your business’ social security number, and you use it in a similar way—to identify one business from another when submitting taxes, applying for a loan, or opening a bank account, for example.

Need to get an Employer Identification Number? Check out our EIN service.

5. Open Bank Accounts

Business owners have personal and business bank accounts to keep their personal assets separate from the business’ assets. Likewise, each business needs a separate business bank account in order to protect each business’ assets from each other.

Some states require that you open and maintain individual bank accounts for each cell in a series LLC, while other states allow you to use the same account for the whole series LLC. Check with your state’s requirements before funding a new series.

6. File Annual Reports

Annual reports keep your business in good standing with your state’s Secretary of State. Each state has different requirements—some states require an annual report and an accompanying fee due every year on the same day, other states require a biennial report every two years, and a few states don’t require any annual reporting at all.

Read more about state reporting requirements to learn when your annual report is due.

Owning Multiple LLCs FAQs

Still have questions? Below are some of the most common questions that business owners have when looking to own more than one LLC.

How do I file taxes if I own multiple LLCs?

You file taxes for each LLC you own separately. This means having a separate bank account and tracking income and expenses separately, even if the businesses are both small.

LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities, meaning that their income “passes through” to the owner(s). So, your business’ tax reports will be attached to your personal tax return each year.

Keep in mind that series LLCs are newer than the traditional LLC and not legal in every state. The IRS says that series LLC taxes should be treated as separate taxable entities, but make sure to check with your state requirements in case your state tax return needs something specific.

Do I have to start a new LLC to start a new business?

No. Starting a new business can mean a lot of things and not all of them require forming a new LLC. You could start a new product line or service with a DBA under your original LLC, go into business as a sole proprietor, or even start a corporation or non-profit.

Forming a new LLC allows you to have independent liability protection on each new business venture, but it is not required to start a new business—as long as you aren’t claiming that the new business is a separate LLC.

What if I don’t want to start a new LLC?

You can use an existing LLC to start a new business by registering a doing business as (DBA) name with your Secretary of State. This doesn’t give you a new line of liability protection, but it does let you market and sell under a new name. (Just keep in mind that your existing business will need to have all the right permits and licenses for the new business’s activities.)

Can I sell one of my LLCs?

Yes! To sell an LLC, the owner(s) must sell their ownership interest. This can be done with a Membership Interest Bill of Sale, a form that documents this legal transfer of interest from one party to another. Just make sure to check with your LLC’s operating agreement first to make sure that you are following any protocols about selling membership interest.

When is a good time to start a new LLC?

You might decide to start a new LLC because your business is profitable and you’re looking to expand. Some business models are centered around always growing and gaining more capital, and forming a second (or third) LLC is a great way to do this. Other good times to start a new LLC might include:

  • You want to add a new product line/service and want to safeguard your current company from any potential risk or liability (For example: adding a coffee bar to your bookstore).
  • You want to expand your business to include dissimilar products or services and want to make sure you aren’t confusing your current customers (For example: starting a jewelry line at an auto shop).
  • You know you eventually want to sell a portion of the business and want to keep different aspects of the business separate (For example: forming a second business to sell paper products so you can sell your plastic product company easier).

But really, a good time to start a new LLC is when you’re ready. At the end of the day, you know your business, your goals, and your timeline.

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