How To Start An LLC In Massachusetts
To start an LLC in Massachusetts, you must file a Certificate of Organization with the Massachusetts Corporations Division. You can file the document online or by mail. The Certificate of Organization costs $500 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Massachusetts LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a Massachusetts LLC Guide:
Massachusetts LLC Filing Options
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Massachusetts LLC Certificate of Organization free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.
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MA Certificate of Organization Requirements
To form a Massachusetts LLC, you must complete and file the Certificate of Organization with the Massachusetts Corporations Division. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Your name must include “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company” or an abbreviation. Most businesses keep it short and sweet with “LLC.”
This must be a street address in Massachusetts. Want to keep things simple (and avoid having to update multiple addresses as your business grows and changes)? When you hire Northwest, you can list our address here.
What specifically does your business do? Art restoration? Janitorial services? You only need to include a few words, but you must be specific (even though the form uses the word “general”).
Want to put an end date on your business? If so, you can include that date in your Certificate. If not (and most businesses don’t), you can skip this section.
You can list an individual person or a service like ours. Northwest has been providing expert resident agent service in Massachusetts for years.
Again, this must be a street address in Massachusetts. When you hire Northwest, our address goes here.
LLCs can be managed either by managers or members. If your LLC is managed by managers, you’ll list the name and business address of each manager. If your LLC is managed by its members, you’ll list the name and business address of at least one member.
What the Commonwealth really wants to know is who in your LLC is authorized to sign any documents relating to real property. In other words, if your company buys a building, who’s allowed to sign off on it? Don’t plan on buying or selling any real estate? You can skip this section.
This is just a fancy name for the person signing and submitting your Certificate of Organization. Your authorized signatory doesn’t have to be anyone in the LLC. Hire Northwest, and we’ll be your signatory.
How much does it cost to start a Massachusetts LLC?
The Massachusetts Corporations Division charges a $500 filing fee for Massachusetts LLCs. If you file online, there’s an additional $20 processing fee.
When you hire Northwest, your total, out-the-door cost is $745, including the above fees, a year of registered agent service, lifetime customer support, and loads of useful forms to help get your Massachusetts LLC up and running.
How long does it take to start a Massachusetts LLC?
The fastest way is to file online, which is normally processed immediately. Note that the system doesn’t notify you when your Certificate is approved—you’ll have to search for your LLC’s registration approval online. You can save $20 if you fill out the downloadable PDF, print it out, mail it to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and wait for it to be processed by hand (this typically adds on about 2 days).
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your Massachusetts LLC formed within the same business day.
Does a Massachusetts LLC need a registered agent?
Absolutely—the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires LLCs to have and maintain a Massachusetts resident agent (also known as a registered agent). You could do it yourself—publicly list your own address on your Certificate of Organization and make yourself available during business hours. Or, you can hire a service like ours. When you hire Northwest, we list our address and deal with all the junk mail and solicitors. We’re ready and waiting in the office Monday through Friday, so you don’t have to be. And with a consistent address on your Certificate of Organization, you don’t have to worry about checking or updating multiple addresses as your business grows.
Create the Massachusetts LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need an Operating Agreement?
No regulatory agency is going to show up on your doorstep one day demanding to see your operating agreement, so in that sense, operating agreements aren’t required. However, they are one of your Massachusetts LLC’s most important internal documents.
Why is an Operating Agreement important?
While the Commonwealth may not be interested in these details, a whole lot of other people will ask to see your operating agreement: members, managers, investors, partners and lenders. Just to open a business bank account, you’ll almost certainly need to show your operating agreement. Why? Your operating agreement not only spells out important details about your business—who invested what, how profits and losses are allocated—but it also lets people know your LLC has its act together. Anyone with $500 to burn can start an LLC. Your operating agreement shows that you’re a serious business—it’s something tangible that shows how your business operates and what your business is really like.
Do I have to write the Operating Agreement?
Not from scratch. When you sign up for our services at Northwest, we include a free operating agreement, specific to your management style. Your operating agreement is one of your LLC’s most critical documents—which is why we give you one for free. We also give you free resolutions, membership certificates and more. We’re proud of our forms and guides. Our operating agreements and other free forms aren’t like the other free junk online. We were the first website to give out free LLC forms, and we’ve spent years revising and improving all of our forms to make them better and better. Over a million LLCs have used our free LLC forms:
Get a Massachusetts LLC EIN
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
You’re required to get an EIN for your Massachusetts LLC if you have employees or file certain federal excise taxes. Banks will typically request your EIN when you go to open a business bank account. Vendors will want your EIN when you go to establish credit. You could offer up your personal social security number instead, but that’s always a risk. Basically, even if it’s not specifically required, getting an EIN will make running your business a lot smoother. Plus, EINs are free from the IRS. Don’t want to go through the hassle of filling out more paperwork? Add on EIN service when you hire Northwest, and we’ll apply on your behalf.
Open a Bank Account for Your Massachusetts LLC
To open a bank account for your Massachusetts LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
- A copy of the Massachusetts LLC Certificate of Organization
- The LLC operating agreement
- The Massachusetts 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 a Massachusetts LLC need a business license?
Massachusetts doesn’t have a general, state-level business license, but cities and counties typically have their own licensing requirements. Boston, for example, requires all businesses to get a Business Certificate ($65 for residents) that must be renewed every 4 years. To find out what’s required, a good place to start is with the city and county offices where your plan to do business.
If any license applications require an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs, Northwest can help. You can add on items like these during checkout or order them later on from inside your free account.
File Massachusetts LLC Reports
What is a Massachusetts LLC Annual Report?
The Massachusetts LLC Annual Report is a mandatory yearly report with a huge price tag—$500 ($520 online). The report itself isn’t especially complicated—it updates the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on your LLC’s contact and ownership information. If your filing is late, however, add on another $25 in late fees. When you sign up with Northwest, we’ll help you remember to file your reports by sending you reminder notifications. You can even hire us to file your reports for you each year.
How much does an LLC in Massachusetts cost each year?
There is a $500 a year filing fee for the Massachusetts LLC Annual Report.
Pay the LLC Taxes
What are the Massachusetts LLC taxes?
The Massachusetts personal net income tax rate is a flat 5.1%. State sales tax is also a flat rate of 6.25%—cities and counties don’t add on local sales taxes of their own, so the rate is the same across the state.
In addition to more common taxes, Massachusetts also has a unique corporate excise tax—so if your LLC opts to be taxed as either an S or C corporation, note that the minimum corporate excise tax is fairly hefty: $456.
For a general overview of Massachusetts business taxes, check out our Massachusetts taxes page. We also have many more free resources you can explore to help you manage your LLC. Free guides, free forms, and exceptional service—that’s Northwest.