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South Carolina Corporation Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Corporation in South Carolina

To start a South Carolina corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation and an Initial Report with the Secretary of State and pay a combined $135 in filing fees. While filing Articles creates your business, it’s really just the first step to launching your South Carolina corporation. The complete steps to incorporating in the Palmetto State are as follows:

  1. File South Carolina Articles of Incorporation and your Initial Report
  2. Pay the South Carolina Secretary of State $135
  3. Wait to receive your approved Articles of Incorporation
  4. Get a federal tax ID (EIN) for the corporation
  5. Create South Carolina corporate bylaws
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a South Carolina corporate bank account
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South Carolina Articles of Incorporation free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Documents & Forms

How to File South Carolina Articles of Incorporation

To form a South Carolina corporation, you file the Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new corporation
Step 2 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 3 Choose how many shares you’d like to authorize
Step 4 Decide when you’d like your corporation to start
Step 5 Choose an incorporator to sign and submit your Articles
Step 6 Include the signature and contact information of an attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina
Step 7 File online and pay with a credit card (fastest) or mail two copies and a self-addressed stamped return envelope to the South Carolina Secretary of State (Attn: Corporate Filings, 1205 Pendleton St, Suite 525, Columbia SC 29201) with a check or money order

How Long Does it Take to Start a South Carolina Corporation?

2

Fastest: 2 Days

Create a South Carolina Business Entities Online account and file your Articles of Incorporation online for the fastest turnaround time (although you’ll shell out an extra $15 for online processing). Note that you’ll still need an attorney signature.

4

Almost Fastest (and some might say better): 4 Days

Hire Northwest and save yourself the headache of hiring your own attorney and pouring over paperwork. Just answer a few questions, sit back and let our Corporate Guides prepare your filing. Then our attorney signs it, and we submit everything online.

7+

Not Too Shabby: 1-2 Weeks

If you’d rather save your $15 for a plate at Bessinger’s or Melvin’s, forgo online processing, and submit by mail. The downside? It takes a lot longer—you could end up waiting a couple weeks for processing.

What is the Cost of a South Carolina Corporation?

At least $135. This includes the $110 fee to submit your Articles and the $25 fee to submit your Initial Report. Filing online? Add on a $15 processing fee. Domestic corporations also need a South Carolina licensed attorney to sign their Articles. Unless you’re buddies with a local attorney, this can get pretty expensive.

At Northwest, we can have our South Carolina attorney sign your filing for $100. This does not constitute any legal advice or relationship with our attorney, but this is much cheaper than you can find anywhere else.

Hire Northwest to form your South Carolina corporation and your total, out-the-door cost is $475. This includes state fees, attorney signature, a full year of registered agent service, and loads of tools and forms to help launch your business.

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What is a South Carolina Initial Report?

Any business in South Carolina that is taxed as a corporation is required to file form CL-1, the South Carolina Initial Report. You file this form along with your Articles of Incorporation (the $25 fee is included in the $135 you pay to file your Articles).

A lot of the information from your Articles of Incorporation is repeated on this form, but you’ll also need to include some extra info such as your principal office address and the names and addresses of directors and officers.

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What are the Taxes for a South Carolina Corporation?

South Carolina corporations pay a net income tax rate of 5%.

The state sales tax rate is 6%, but there are typically local sales tax rates as well. To get an idea of what customers actually pay at the counter, below are the total sales tax rates for the 5 largest cities in South Carolina:

Columbia: 8%
Charleston: 9%
North Charleston: 9%
Mount Pleasant: 9%
Rock Hill: 7%

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Is a Registered Agent Required for a South Carolina Corporation?

Yes, you must appoint a South Carolina registered agent. Your agent also has to sign your Articles of Incorporation and list a registered office (the address where they will accept legal notifications). Your agent can be a business or an individual South Carolina resident. You can even be your own registered agent—although it’s often more of a headache than people anticipate.

Being your own agent means being regularly available at your registered office during business hours. No one likes being stuck in the office. In addition to cabin fever, being tied to the desk makes its harder to run your business. You have a million things to do—and you can’t really tour a potential location or attend a business event without leaving your desk. What’s even more annoying is that your registered office address becomes part of the public record of your corporation, meaning it’s accessible to everyone—including data-sellers and busybodies.

A better option? Leave the worry and hurry to us. Our South Carolina office address will go in your Articles, so you can better keep your privacy. We’ll be ready and waiting to scan and send you any legal notifications the same day, leaving you free to run your business from anywhere—whether that’s the office or Myrtle Beach.

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South Carolina Corporation Versus South Carolina LLC:

In South Carolina, both LLCs and corporations have the same general state filing fees—although corporations are also required to hire an attorney just to file Articles of Incorporation, which can make forming a corporation a bit more expensive. For other fees, your tax election matters much more than your entity type. Businesses taxed as corporations (including S corps) have a few extra fees. They have to submit an Initial Report ($25) and pay an Annual License Fee ($25 minimum).

Besides costs, there are other factors to consider when choosing your entity type. Corporations have a familiar, formal structure that can make it easier to manage lots of people and departments. Their long legal history means there’s plenty of court precedents, which can help corporations navigate complex legal waters and make the best decisions for their businesses. Stocks also open up more possibilities for corporations, such as offering preferred stock to more cautious investors. LLCs, on the other hand, are popular for small businesses or those that value simplicity. Curious if a South Carolina LLC might be a better fit for you? Here’s information on starting an LLC in South Carolina.

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

Yes, you’ll need an EIN for both your federal tax filings and your state corporate income tax filings. The IRS issues EINs. You can apply for one at no cost directly from the IRS.

Or, if you’d rather not slog through IRS paperwork, hire Northwest to get your EIN for you. You don’t even need an extra form—just tick the box that says “EIN service” during checkout when you sign up for our South Carolina incorporation services.

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Does a South Carolina Corporation Need a Business License?

The state itself doesn’t mandate a general business license. However, you’ll likely need a general license from either the city or county in which you’re operating.

For instance, cities like Greenville and Simpsonville—and counties like Richland County and Charleston County—all require businesses to obtain annual business licenses.

How Much Does a Corporation in South Carolina Cost Each Year?

A minimum of $25 for the Annual License Fee.

What is South Carolina’s Annual License Fee?

Corporations, including S corps, are subject to a yearly fee called the Annual License Fee. The fee is $15 plus 0.1% of your corporation’s capital and paid-in surplus. The minimum license fee is $25. The fee is due along with your corporate income tax each year (it’s reported on the same return).

Do South Carolina Corporations File An Annual Report?

Yes, and like the Annual Fee, it’s bundled together with the state’s corporate income tax return (SC 1120). The Annual Report is Schedule D (page 3 of the return), and requires you to update your contact, ownership and share information.

Does a South Carolina Corporation Need Bylaws?

Absolutely. Your Articles of Incorporation get your business started, but bylaws are what get your South Carolina corporation organized.

Your bylaws determine how decisions in your corporation are made—and who gets to make them. To create your bylaws, you’ll decide who’s on the board of directors, how long they’ll stay, and how they’ll be replaced. You’ll determine who your officers are and what their duties will be. You’ll decide the scope of each person’s authority—who can call a meeting or sign a contract. Because your bylaws answer these kinds of questions, your directors, officers and shareholders will depend on them. And people outside your business will ask to see your bylaws as well. Your bank will need assurance that you’re authorized to open an account for your business, and potential investors or partners will want to see how your corporation is organized before signing on to work with your business.

Bylaws are critical—which is why we give you free corporate bylaws when you hire Northwest to form your South Carolina 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 don’t waste their time agonizing over paperwork). Take a look at the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.

South Carolina Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Business Name

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

Registered Office

This South Carolina street address is where legal notifications will be sent. Like all the info in your Articles, this address will become part of the permanent public record of your corporation. Tip: Hire Northwest as your registered agent, and our address will go here.

Registered Agent

List either an individual South Carolina resident (like yourself) or a business (like Northwest). Your agent will also need to sign your Articles to indicate their consent to serve. Tip: We recommend Northwest.

Authorized Shares

For each class of shares, list how many shares you’re creating. If you have multiple classes of shares, you’ll also list the rights and limitations of each class.

Delayed Date

When do you want your corporation to start? If you want to start your corporation on a specific date, you can list a start date up to 90 days in the future. Tip: Just want your South Carolina corporation to start right away? Skip this section.

South Carolina Incorporator

Your incorporator is the person you authorize to submit your Articles of Incorporation. Incorporators must include their names, addresses and signatures. You must have at least one incorporator (but it doesn’t have to be anyone in your corporation). Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire us to form your South Carolina corporation.

Attorney Signature

An attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina must sign to certify that the Articles comply with the South Carolina Code of Laws (§33-2). Tip: Save on steep attorney fees when you hire Northwest to incorporate—in addition to preparing your Articles, our attorney signs them. It’s all part of our South Carolina incorporation package.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®