How To Start An LLC In Montana
To start an LLC in Montana, you must file Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State. You can file the document online. The Articles of Organization cost $70 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Montana LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a Montana LLC Guide:
Montana LLC Filing Options
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Montana LLC Articles of Organization free download. This form is an example; the state has recently switched to an all-online filing system.
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Montana LLC Articles of Organization Requirements
To form a Montana LLC, you must complete and file the Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State. The document is an example form only—Montana requires filings to be done online. The requirements for online filings are explained below.
Montana business filings have moved online, so the first step will be online registration. To make an account, you’ll need to provide your name and email address and create a password. Once in your account, you’ll need to provide a little more information, including a zip code.
When would you like your business to start? Skip this section if you’re like most LLCs and want your business to start right away. If you want to push back your start date a bit (maybe the next tax period is right around the corner), you can enter a future effective date up to 90 days in the future.
Montana uses the same online form for both professional and regular LLCs, so you’ll have to select one or the other. While your LLC is probably perfectly professional, that doesn’t mean you’re a professional LLC. Professional LLCs provide state-licensed services (think doctors and lawyers). Tip: Most LLCs are not professional LLCs.
Your name must include “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company” or an abbreviation. Most businesses go with “LLC.”
You can list an individual like yourself or a service like Northwest Registered Agent. We recommend Northwest.
If you choose an individual agent, you’ll need to include the Montana street address where they will be available to accept service of process. Their address will become a part of the permanent public record of your LLC. Or, if you hire Northwest, you don’t have to enter an address—our address is already on file with the State of Montana.
If you list your own email, remember that the Articles are public, and data sellers love email addresses—at the very least, create a business email so your personal email isn’t overrun with spam. When you hire Northwest, our email will go here.
This is the address the state will use to send non-legal mail. Want to keep it simple with one address for all your state mail? When you hire Northwest, you can use our address here.
Most LLCs want their businesses to keep going indefinitely, so they choose a “perpetual” duration. If you’d rather put a self-destruct timer on your LLC though, you can list an end date here.
This section is optional, so many LLCs either skip it or put a general purpose that says the LLC is organized to conduct any lawful business in the State of Montana.
You’ll have to decide if your LLC will be managed by its members or by managers. Most LLCs are member-managed, but if you don’t plan to run day-to-day operations, you can pass the decision-making power onto one or more managers. You’ll enter the names and contact information for either the members or managers.
Your organizer is the person who signs and submits your Montana LLC Articles of Organization. It doesn’t have to be anyone in your LLC. Hire Northwest, and we’ll be your organizer.
How much does it cost to start a Montana LLC?
The Montana Secretary of State charges a $70 filing fee for Montana LLC Articles of Organization.
Hire Northwest, and your total, out-the-door cost is $295 ($315 expedited), including state fees, registered agent service, lifetime customer support, and loads of forms and resources to help your Montana LLC get up and running.
How long does it take to start a Montana LLC?
Montana only has online filing (no paper), but there are options to expedite. For speedy 1-day processing, file your Articles of Organization yourself and pay an extra $20 for expediting. If you really need it fast, you can even pay for 1-hour expediting, but you’ll have to fork over $100. Standard processing will save you money, but you’ll wait 5 days on average for approval.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your expedited Montana LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does a Montana LLC need a registered agent?
Yes, your Montana LLC is required to have a Montana registered agent. Some people try to save a few bucks by being their own registered agent, but hiring a commercial registered agent isn’t too spendy when you consider the privacy and freedom you gain. If you act as your own registered agent, the address where you accept legal notifications becomes part of the permanent public record of your LLC. Anyone can look up your information, including data sellers who will almost certainly sell and resell your information until your mailbox is crammed full of junk. Also, the job of a registered agent is to be available to process servers—which means you actually have to be at the address you list during business hours. Not in meetings. Not picking up supplies. Not out camping or hunting.
Hire Northwest, and our address will go on your Montana LLC Articles of Organization. We’ll be available to accept your legal notices—we’ll even scan and send them the same day, so you can stay on top of your business no matter where you are.
Create the Montana LLC Operating Agreement
Do I need an Operating Agreement?
Your Montana LLC needs an operating agreement. Maybe not legally—it’s not a form you file with the state—but it’s one of the most important internal documents of your Montana LLC.
Why is an Operating Agreement important?
There are essential things your LLC will need starting out. Investors. A bank account. Financing. And for all of these, you’ll likely need an operating agreement. Your operating agreement explains how your LLC really works—how much each person invested, how much say each person has in decisions, how profits and losses are allocated, and what happens in worst-case scenarios like if the business goes under. Members will want these things in writing because they’re directly affected by the terms of the agreement. Banks and potential partners will want to see your agreement to make sure you’re legitimate. After all, anyone with $70 can create a Montana LLC.
Do I have to write the Operating Agreement?
Putting together all the pieces to launch a business is already a lot of work—but when it comes to your operating agreement, you don’t have to start from scratch. When you hire Northwest to form your Montana LLC, we give you a free operating agreement specific to your management style. We give you other free forms as well: membership certificates, resolutions and more. We’ve spent years refining our forms and we’re pretty proud—over a million LLCs have used our free LLC forms to help form and maintain their businesses.
Get a Montana LLC EIN
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
You’re required to get an EIN from the IRS if you have employees or file certain federal excise taxes, like Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms returns. You’ll need an EIN for a few other situations as well—opening a business bank account, establishing credit with vendors, and even filing some local tax forms. You may be able to use your personal social security number instead, but that just puts your personal information at risk. There’s no filing fee if you apply for your EIN directly from the IRS, so there’s no reason not to get one. You can even hire Northwest to get your EIN for you when you sign up for our services.
Open a Bank Account for Your Montana LLC
To open a bank account for your Montana LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
- A copy of the Montana LLC Articles of Organization
- The LLC operating agreement
- The Montana 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 Montana LLC need a business license?
Montana doesn’t have a general, statewide business license. Instead, cities and counties manage all the business licensing in Montana. For example, if you conduct any business in Billings, you’re required to get an annual city business license. To find out what licenses your particular business may need, a good place to start is the city or county office.
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 Montana LLC Reports
What is a Montana LLC Annual Report?
Your Montana LLC Annual Report is an online form you have to submit by April 15th each year. The form reports your LLC’s current contact and ownership information. While the fee isn’t excessive at $20 a year, there’s a $15 late fee if you forget to file—and if you don’t file by December, the state will shut down your LLC. Worried you’ll forget? When you sign up for services with Northwest, we’ll send you reminder notifications for your Annual Report. You can even take that task off your plate completely by hiring us to file your report for you each year.
How much does an LLC in Montana cost each year?
LLCs in Montana have to pay $20 each year to file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State.
Pay the LLC Taxes
What are the Montana LLC taxes?
The Montana personal net income tax rates are:
1%: $0 to $2,899
2%: $2,900 to $5,199
3%: $5,200 to $7,899
4%: $7,900 to $10,599
5%: $10,600 to $13,599
6%: $13,600 to $17,599
Montana is one of the few states that doesn’t have a general sales tax—not even at the local city or county level. There are, however, a handful of taxes targeted on the sale or use of specific items or services, like tobacco and car rentals.
Want a bigger overview of state taxes? Check out our Montana business 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.