How to Start an LLC in Ohio

Starting your LLC in Ohio may be overwhelming and confusing at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you take the time to understand each step and organize your business, you’ll see how simple it is to establish an LLC in the state.

To help you get started on your LLC creation process, we’ve put together a guide that will assist with each stage of the process. Below is information about the steps in the Ohio LLC establishment process, as well helpful tips about paperwork and filing fees. By the end, you’ll understand how to get your business started in the state for as little as $99!

Our Top Pick: ZenBusiness

Rating: 5/5  

ZenBusiness makes it hassle-free to create an LLC in Ohio and offers its services at a great rate. The cost for state LLC fees is $99 and the cost for State Corp Fees is $99. ZenBusiness is also known for its customer support and additional assistance. The company has packages that include registered agents, data filing, data storage, and more. Plus, the website has 24/7 support for all of your customer service needs.

Runner Up: BetterLegal

Rating: 4/5

BetterLegal is a well-rounded company that helps LLCs in many ways. BetterLegal has many packages that LLCs can use, but to get started, it costs $299 plus an additional $199 because of Ohio’s filing fees. BetterLegal also goes above and beyond for its customers. This means that BetterLegal has additional services (like registered agent help) available for clients.

Setting Up Your LLC in Ohio

cleveland skyline at sunset

The first steps in setting up your Ohio LLC involve following certain naming and organizational rules, in addition to appointing key members to run your LLC. We discuss these preliminary steps and guide you through the most essential information below.

Naming Your Ohio LLC

One of the first things you need to do is find a suitable name for your business. This name must be distinct from other businesses in the state and follow a few LLC naming rules.

Legally Required Designation

Ohio LLC regulations require that the name of your business contain the phrase “limited liability company,” “limited,” or one of the following abbreviations:

  •   LLC
  •   L.L.C.
  •       ltd.
  •       ltd

You can read more about specific naming guidelines and what makes a business name distinguishable here.

Unique Name

As mentioned above, the name you choose for your LLC must be unique and distinct from all other businesses in Ohio. You can ensure that your desired name is available by running a search on the Ohio Secretary of State’s business name database.

If you find a name is available, you can reserve it ahead of time. This is done by submitting a Name Reservation form online or by mailing it to the address printed on the document. There is a $39 filing fee associated with this form, and it will hold your chosen LLC name for 180 days before establishing your business. It takes between 3 and 7 business days to process, but you may choose to pay an additional $100 expedited fee for guaranteed 2-business-day processing.

Additionally, you may want to perform a search of available domain names. Regardless of when you want to set up a business website, it can be helpful to purchase a matching domain name to avoid any stress about finding one in the future.

Restricted Words

When choosing an LLC name, keep in mind that you cannot include any words that run the risk of confusing your business with a government entity. This includes “IRS,” “Treasury,” or “State Department.”

You should also be aware that using words such as “bank,” “attorney,” or “chiropractor” may require the presence of a properly licensed individual in your LLC and filing separate paperwork. Ohio does not allow the formation of professional LLCs, and only certain licensed professionals can form professional corporations. More information on these requirements can be found here.

Using an Assumed Name

Ohio allows LLCs to use an assumed or DBA (doing business as) name for their business. Having an assumed name means you continue using your legally registered LLC name on all official documents but a different registered name when interacting with the public. This can be a great choice for a business owner who wants to market their LLC a specific way or maintain an extra level of privacy.

To register your DBA name in Ohio, you need to file a Name Registration with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. It can be filed online or mailed to one of the addresses on the form (there are separate addresses for regular or expedited filings). There is a $39 filing fee, and you can choose to pay an extra $100 for expedited filing.

Choose a Registered Agent

All LLCs in Ohio are required to appoint a registered agent — also called an agent for service of process. The registered agent for your LLC is responsible for receiving all legal documents, government communications, and tax documents, essentially acting as a contact point between your business and state or federal agencies. They are also the responsible party that is contacted in the event of a lawsuit against your LLC.

You can appoint any Ohio resident or a business authorized to conduct operations in the state as your registered agent. As long as your appointee has a valid Ohio street address and is available during regular business hours, they are eligible to be your registered agent. Your agent is required to certify that they are an Ohio resident when it comes time to file your Articles of Organization.

File Your Articles of Organization

Once you have completed all the preliminary steps of setting up your LLC, you are ready to file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State’s office. This document will provide important information about your business that the state needs to keep on file. You can preview some of this information below.

  •   Your LLC’s name
  •   The effective date of your Articles – either immediately or at a future date
  •   Your LLC’s duration, if not perpetual
  •   Your LLC’s general business purpose
  •   Your LLC’s principal office address, email, and phone number
  •       Your registered agent’s name, address, and signature
  •       The signature of your LLC’s manager, member, or an authorized representative

You can file your Articles of Organization online or through the mail. There is a $99 filing fee associated with this form, and you can choose to pay expedited service fees that range from $100 to $300, depending on the speed. More details can be found on the Articles of Organization paper form.

Online

To file your Articles of Organization online, you need to visit the Ohio business filings portal. From there, select the option to create a new business filing and follow the instructions to create your online account. Once created, you can proceed through the online Articles form. Upon submission, you will be prompted to pay the $99 filing fee and any expedited service fee that you have chosen.

By Mail

If you want to file your Articles of Organization through the mail, you must print out and complete the paper form. Once the form is completed, place it in a sealed envelope along with a check for the $99 filing fee made out to the Ohio Secretary of State.

To receive expedited service, check the appropriate box on the form and add the extra fee onto the original filing fee on your check. Send the sealed envelope to one of the addresses below (select the one that matches your filing type).

Regular Filing:

Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 670
Columbus, OH 43216

Expedited Filing:

Ohio Secretary of State
P.O. Box 1390
Columbus, OH 43216

Create an Operating Agreement

Ohio LLCs are not required to create or file an operating agreement with the state, but you may want to create one anyway. An effective operating agreement sets clear guidelines for how your LLC is managed, the rights that members or managers have, and what to do if your LLC dissolves or experiences a lawsuit.

If you choose not to create an LLC operating agreement, Ohio LLC law will dictate how your LLC is to be managed in the event of dissolution, conflict, or lawsuit. This may not be in your best interests, so creating an operating agreement can protect yourself and your assets.

For help creating an operating agreement, you can check out a template online. Make sure to change all applicable areas to match what you decided for your business and stay within Ohio LLC legal requirements; you can always consult with a business advisor or attorney to make this process easier.

Get an EIN/Tax ID Number

After your LLC is officially established in Ohio, you must apply for a Tax ID number, also known as an EIN (Employer Identification Number), through the IRS. Any LLC that has more than one member — or any single-member LLC that wants to hire employees or chooses to be taxed as a corporation — must apply for an EIN.

Your EIN is used to identify your business to the IRS on all tax documents and necessary government filings; the number acts as a social security number for your LLC. If you want to hire employees, file federal taxes, open business bank or credit accounts, or apply for business funding, you need an EIN.

It is free to apply for your EIN with the IRS, and you can file the application online or by mailing it in. Keep in mind that if you are a foreign filer or do not have a social security number, you must file for your EIN through the mail.

Online

The quickest and easiest way to apply for your EIN is online; you will receive your number once your application is completed. Visit the IRS website to apply for your free EIN.

By Mail

You need to fill out this form when applying for your LLC by mail. If you are a foreign filer or do not have a social security number, leave section 7b blank. Mail the completed form to the address below. You can follow up on any questions with the IRS at (267) 941-1099.

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Keeping Your LLC Running

ohio state flags in capitol square

There are specific tasks that you need to keep doing on a running basis to ensure that your LLC’s operations stay smooth and uninterrupted.

No Annual Report Requirement

While most states require LLCs to file annual reports and pay a fee each year, Ohio does not have this requirement. Once your LLC is established and operating in the state, you will not need to file any additional reports with the Secretary of State’s office.

Separate Your Business Finances

There is no requirement to open a separate business bank account for your LLC, but the Ohio Secretary of State’s office strongly recommends that you do this once your LLC has been established. A business credit or debit account can keep your LLC’s finances separate from personal ones, officially establishing the LLC as an independently operating business. This can protect your assets in the case of a lawsuit against your business.

You most likely need to show your Articles of Organization, operating agreement, EIN, or other LLC documents to open a bank account for your LLC. Compare all your options before deciding which bank account to open, as banks will have varying minimum required balances or credit spending limits; you want to be sure that you select what is best for your LLC’s needs.

Keep Up With Federal and State Taxes

It is important to keep up with federal and state taxes while running your LLC to avoid major tax penalties or fines.

Federal Tax Requirements

There are several tax structures you can choose from to use in your LLC that may meet different company needs; each structure comes with its own unique type of federal taxation. This article can help you gain an in-depth understanding of the differences between each type and help you decide which is best for you.

In general, most LLCs are taxed as sole proprietorships or partnerships. This means you are expected to file Schedule C along with your individual income tax return to declare any income that you receive through your LLC. When using this tax structure, keep in mind that you most likely need to pay self-employment tax (at a rate of 15.3%) in addition to any income tax. You may also need to make quarterly estimated tax payments to avoid IRS fines; the IRS website gives more details on this.

If you want, you can choose to have your LLC taxed as a corporation, like an S Corporation or a C Corporation. You need to fill out IRS Form 8832 and IRS Form 2553 to declare this. After these forms are processed, your LLC will be treated as a corporation and expected to file a separate corporate tax return with the IRS.

Ohio Business Taxes

Ohio does have a Commercial Activity Tax that LLCs and corporations are liable to pay in certain circumstances. If your LLC makes over a certain income amount per year, you are required to pay this tax. Any LLC that elects to be taxed as a sole proprietorship does not have to pay this tax. More information on this can be found here.

For LLCs taxed as either S or C corporations, Ohio may require your business to pay an additional financial institution tax. This tax replaced the state’s general corporation tax requirement in 2014. More information on eligibility to pay this tax can be found here.

If your LLC is taxed as a sole proprietorship or a partnership (these are pass-through entities), you are liable to pay individual state income tax on your business earnings. The Ohio Department of Taxation provides more information about taxes for pass-through entities here.

Sales and Use Taxes

LLCs that sell goods or services are likely liable to pay sales and use taxes in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Taxation is in charge of this tax, and you can find out more information about it, plus instructions on registering and filing for this tax, here.

State Employer Taxes

If your LLC is hiring employees, you need to pay withholding and unemployment insurance taxes in the state. Withholding taxes are handled through the Ohio Department of Taxation, while unemployment insurance taxes are registered for and paid through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Acquire Necessary Permits and Licenses

There is no general business license that your LLC is required to obtain in Ohio, but you may need to acquire permits or licenses on a local level, depending on your business. You should check with the County Clerk’s Office in the area that your LLC is located in for more information.

If you are offering professional services, you may need to meet state and national licensing requirements. You can find information on professional licensing here or by consulting the business checklist on the Ohio state government website here.

On a federal level, you may be required to obtain certain permits and licenses for your LLC, depending mostly on the type of business you run and the services you offer. For help determining if you need to meet additional federal licensure requirements, you can use the directory on the US Small Business Administration’s website.

FAQs

Looking through these frequently asked questions may ease any lingering worries or fears about starting your LLC in Ohio.

How Much Does It Cost to Set up an LLC in Ohio?

In Ohio, it will cost $99 to file your Articles of Organization with the state, $39 to file an LLC name reservation and $39 to register a DBA name. You may also want to pay an additional $100 expedited service fee for a 2-day processing of these forms.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Start an LLC in Ohio?

The cheapest way to start your LLC in Ohio is to file your Articles of Organization online or through the mail without first reserving an LLC name or registering a DBA name. Doing it this way will only cost $99 to get your business set up.

How Long Does It Take To Start an LLC in Ohio?

Filing Articles of Organization through the mail or online takes approximately 3 to 7 business days to fully process. If you want your LLC to be established faster, you can pay an extra $100 expedited service fee for 2-business-day processing. The good news is that working with an LLC services company like ZenBusiness speeds up the process. This is because ZenBusiness offers packages that speed up the processing time for LLCs in Ohio.

How Much Do Ohio LLCs Pay in Taxes?

How much your LLC pays in taxes depends on the individual tax structure you set up for your business. You may also have to pay commercial activity tax in the state or other state taxes such as sales and use, withholding, and unemployment insurance tax. Make sure to consult with a professional accountant or financial advisor if you have concerns about your overall federal and state tax burden.

How Often Do I Have to File State Reports?

LLCs in Ohio are not required to file state reports or pay any kind of annual fee. That said, you should still make sure you have a reliable registered agent. This will keep you out of trouble and help your company stay in good standing. 

While many people might overlook the need to work with a registered agent service in a state that doesn’t have filing requirements, the opposite is often true. Therefore, we always recommend working with a professional registered agent service like BetterLegal.

How Do You Dissolve an Ohio LLC?

If you are finished conducting business under your LLC in Ohio, you need to file a Certificate of Dissolution with the Secretary of State’s office. There is a $50 filing fee for this form, and it can be mailed to the address printed on the document or filed online.

You also need to consult any operating agreements you have set up and ensure that you close your business according to the previously agreed-upon terms between those running your LLC.

Ohio LLC Resources

The below list of resources can guide you through each step of the LLC establishment process in Ohio.

Start an LLC in Ohio Quickly With a Professional Service

Ohio is one of the best states to start an LLC in. While this is the case, it’s also one of the states that has the most steps to do so. This can be a hassle for people who want to start an LLC, especially if they’re having trouble getting started. The good news is that companies like ZenBusiness can help you. 

These LLC services companies provide you with the support necessary to start an LLC, manage an LLC, and keep an LLC in good standing with the state of Ohio. We’re going to take you through two of our favorite choices.

Our Top Pick: ZenBusiness -5/5 Rating

ZenBusiness is the top choice for Ohio and every other state in the United States. ZenBusiness puts the zen in starting an LLC and makes the prices simple and even fun. All you have to do is reach out and they’ll take care of the rest. This helps you focus more on your business plan and LLC instead of needing to worry about having all of the right paperwork. 

Moreover, ZenBusiness offers registered agent services and other services that can help your company after it’s started. While these packages cost extra, they can be very helpful for the longevity of your LLC.

Runner Up: BetterLegal – 4/5 Rating

BetterLegal is another excellent choice when it comes to starting an LLC in Ohio. BetterLegal is a well-rounded company that has a great reputation, stable prices, and high-quality services. With BetterLegal, starting an LLC is simple, easy, and hassle-free. Overall, BetterLegal has earned its place as the runner-up.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.