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How to Start a Corporation in Montana

To start a Montana corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State and pay a $70 filing fee. While this filing creates your business, it’s really just the first step to launching your Montana corporation. The complete steps to incorporating in Big Sky Country are as follows:

  1. File Montana Articles of Incorporation
  2. Pay the Montana Secretary of State $70
  3. Print your approved Articles once they arrive in your email
  4. Get a federal tax ID (EIN) for the corporation
  5. Create Montana corporate bylaws
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a Montana corporate bank account
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Montana Articles of Incorporation free download. This form is an example; the state has recently switched to an all-online filing system.

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Documents & Forms

How to File Montana Articles of Incorporation

To form a Montana corporation, you file the Articles of Incorporation online in the following steps:
Step 1 Register for a Montana ePass account
Step 2 Decide when you’d like your corporation to begin
Step 3 Choose a name and your type of corporation
Step 4 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 5 Decide what address you’d like to list publicly
Step 6 Choose how long you’d like your corporation to exist
Step 7 Choose an incorporator to sign and submit your Articles
Step 8 Choose how many shares to authorize and list their par value
Step 9 File online and pay $70 with a credit card

How Long Does it Take to Start a Montana Corporation?

1

Fastest: 1 Day

Expedite your filing for the fastest processing times. For 1-day processing, fork over an extra $20. Or, if you really need it fast, you can shell out $100 for 1-hour processing.

1

Almost Fastest (and some might say better): 1 Day

Let Northwest prepare and file your expedited filing for you. Just answer a few brief questions about your business, sit back, and let our Corporate Guides file everything correctly the first time.

5

Not Too Shabby: 5 Days

Whether you file yourself or with Northwest, you can skip the extra fees for expediting if you can wait a few days for the state to process your filing.

What is the Cost of a Montana Corporation?

Montana’s Secretary of State charges $70 to submit Articles of Incorporation. Need it expedited? Add on $20 for 24-hour processing or $100 for 1-hour processing.

Hire Northwest to form your Montana corporation and your total, out-the-door cost is $295 ($315 for 24-hour filing). This includes state filing fees, a full year of registered agent service and all the business forms you need to open a corporate bank account.

How Much Does a Corporation in Montana Cost Each Year?

$20. This is the filing fee for the mandatory Montana Annual Report.

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What is a Montana Annual Report?

Your Montana Annual Report is an online form you submit to the Secretary of State each year. The report confirms or updates your Montana corporation’s ownership and contact information. The report and $20 fee are due by April 15th. Miss your deadline? There’s a $15 late fee, and if your report remains unfiled, the state can dissolve your corporation.

Northwest can help you avoid annoying late fees and penalties. When you hire us as your registered agent, we’ll help you stay in compliance by sending you report reminders. If you’d prefer to let us take on this extra task entirely, you can hire us to file your Montana Annual Report for your corporation for $100 plus state fees.

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What are the Taxes for a Montana Corporation?

The Montana corporate net income tax rate is a flat 6.75%. There’s a minimum tax of $50.

Montana is one of the few states that doesn’t have a sales tax. Although a few specific products and services are taxed (like tobacco and car rentals), customers generally pay 0% sales tax at the counter.

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Is a Registered Agent Required for a Montana Corporation?

Yes, your corporation must have a Montana registered agent. Agents accept legal notices for your business. They must list their name and office in your public Articles of Incorporation, and they have to be available at their office during business hours. Starting a business, however, shouldn’t mean making all your personal information free for the taking or giving up your freedom to come and go when you need to. You should be able to drive a few hours to pick up supplies or meet with a potential investor—and not have to worry about missing a process server.

Your agent doesn’t have to be someone in your corporation. You can hire a registered agent service like Northwest. We’ll list our address in your Articles, and we’ll scan and send you any legal notifications the same day. We work hard so you have the time to work harder on what means more to you—your business.

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Montana Corporation Versus Montana LLC:

Costs are pretty similar for both entities. For state filing fees, both Montana corporations and LLCs pay $70 to form and $20 a year for Annual Reports. Other costs (licenses, permits, taxes, etc.) are based more on your business activities and choices than your entity type. For instance, both corporations and LLCs can elect to be taxed as S corporations, which would make their tax obligations the same.

So which entity type makes more sense for your Montana business? Corporations and LLCs operate differently and each have advantages for different kinds of businesses. Corporations are common choices for large businesses (or those that hope to scale quickly). Why? They’re familiar—most people have a general idea of what stocks are and what directors do. Stock can make it easier to raise capital or attract different kinds of investors. Corporations also have a long legal history. Business law is complicated, especially the larger your business grows. Because corporations have decades of court rulings for precedents, corporations can make legal decisions more confidently. LLCs are more common for small businesses or new business owners that value simplicity. Considering an LLC? Here’s information on starting an LLC in Montana.

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

Yes, your Montana corporation will need to obtain a federal tax ID (also called an EIN or FEIN). You’ll use this ID number on your federal tax filings and a variety of other paperwork—from your application for a corporate bank account to registrations for local licenses and permits.

To get an EIN, you can file an application with the IRS for no fee. If you’d rather skip filling out yet another application, you can hire Northwest to get your EIN for you. Just add on EIN service during checkout when signing up for our Montana incorporation services.

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Does a Montana Corporation Need a Business License?

The state doesn’t have a general business license, but most Montana cities require some sort of business license. These licenses vary quite a bit.

Bozeman, for example, charges a flat fee of $50 for the majority of businesses. Billings, on the other hand, has an ordinance requiring a “business license tax.” Essentially, you’re required to get a license to conduct business in the city, and you receive the license once you’ve paid your annual tax.

Does a Montana Corporation Need Bylaws?

Yes, your Montana corporation absolutely needs bylaws. The people within and outside your corporation need to know how decisions and changes are made (and who has the authority to make these decisions or changes). For example, who can approve a contract? Who can open a corporate bank account? Do all board members have to agree in order to pass a resolution? How are board members and officers selected? How long do they stay? How are they replaced? What voting rights are there for different classes or series of shares? The answers to these types of questions are what make up your bylaws. Not only are your bylaws essential to organize your corporation, they will also affect how you conduct business with other people and organizations, from lenders to investors.

Because your bylaws are so critical, we give you free corporate bylaws when you hire Northwest to form your Montana corporation. We’ll give you other key forms as well, from resolutions to meeting minute templates. We’ve spent years refining and developing our forms to ensure our clients have everything they need and can start out on the right foot. Take a look at the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.

Montana Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Register for an ePass Montana Account

Montana has moved most of its business filings 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.

Effective Date

Want your business to start right away? Skip this section. If you want to start on a specific date, you can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future. Tip: Most corporations skip this section.

Corporate Type

There are a few different types of corporation you can choose from: Benefit, General, Close, Professional or Close Professional. Most corporations are “General For Profit Corporations.”

Business Name

Your name must include “Corporation,” “Incorporated,” “Company,” “Limited” or an abbreviation of one of these words. Most corporations keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”

Registered Agent

Choose either “existing agent” (like Northwest Registered Agent LLC) or “new agent” (like yourself or someone in your corporation) and enter their name. Tick the box to confirm that your registered agent has consented to serve this position. Tip: If you haven’t guessed already, we recommend Northwest for all your registered agent needs.

Registered Office

If you chose “new agent,” you’ll need to enter the Montana street address where the agent will be available to accept legal notifications for your corporation. This information will become part of the public record of your business.

Business Mailing Address of Principal Office

Where would you like the state to send your corporation’s mail (besides legal notifications—those go to your registered agent)? Tip: Keep things simple with one business address for everything. When you hire Northwest as your registered agent, you can use our Montana address as your mailing address.

Term

How long do you want your business to exist? If you want your corporation to continue indefinitely, choose “perpetual.” Otherwise, enter a future end date or the number of years to exist. Tip: Most corporations choose “perpetual.”

Purpose

You can skip this box if you choose—it’s not required to submit your Articles. If you want to include a purpose, it can be general (“engage in any lawful activity in the State of Montana”) or specific (“restore and repair motorcycles”).

Tribal Designation

You can note if your corporation is a tribal business associated with one of the tribes listed in the drop down menu. If not, skip this section—it’s optional.

Montana Incorporator

Your incorporator signs and submits your Articles of Incorporation and must include their name and address. Your incorporator doesn’t have to be a director or anyone in your corporation. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire Northwest.

Directors

If you want, you can choose to list the name and address of your Montana corporation’s directors, but this is optional.

Authorized Shares

Click “Add Share Class.” For the share name, choose “Common,” “Preferred” or “Other” and then list the number of shares you’re creating. Next to “Share Par Value,” list the value of each share. “Par value” is also called “face value”—it’s the price listed on stock certificates, and it’s typically the lowest value at which a share will be traded.

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by Local Corporate Guides®