How to Start a Florida Corporation


Steve Goldstein
Steve Goldstein
Business Formation Expert
Steve Goldstein runs LLCBuddy, helping entrepreneurs set up their LLCs easily. He offers clear guides, articles, and FAQs to simplify the process. His team keeps everything accurate and current, focusing on state rules, registered agents, and compliance. Steve’s passion for helping businesses grow makes LLCBuddy a go-to resource for starting and managing an LLC.

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Start a Florida Corporation

When you plan to start a business in Florida, you must decide on the appropriate structure. Starting a corporation may be more complicated than creating an LLC in Florida or a sole proprietorship. However, it is not that difficult as well. There are a few guidelines that you should be aware of when it comes to creating Florida corporation. Starting a corporation involves a legal process, that is, the process of incorporation.

In this article, I will share a step-by-step guide to start a corporation in Florida. I will also enlighten you on the advantages and disadvantages of having a corporation. Some people consider starting a corporation in Florida more than other business structures since it has many advantages over other forms.

What is a Corporation in Florida

In definition, a corporation is a formal organization established by stockholders, shareholders, or other people to make a profit. Like individuals, corporations can undertake contracts, own assets, sue and be sued, pay taxes, limit state and federal taxes, and loan funds from banking institutions.

Common Types of Corporations

Before you start with the process of forming a corporation, you should know what type of corporation you will form. There are several different forms of corporations you can take into consideration, depending on your corporation’s objectives and ownership structure.

  • C-Corporation: C-Corporation is the most known type of incorporation. They have almost all corporate distinguishing characteristics. Profits are distributed to corporate owners who are taxed at an individual level. The corporation is taxed similarly to a business unit.
  • S-Corporation: An S-Corporation is set up similarly to a C-corporation but has different tax implications and owner limits. S-corps have no more than 100 stockholders and are not taxed separately. These business units must also file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain their status.
  • Non-profit Corporation: Nonprofit businesses are frequently used by religious, educational, and charity institutions to run their operations without making a profit. Thus, a nonprofit corporation is exempt from paying taxes. The nonprofit organization’s gifts, contributions, or cash are reinvested in the company to fund its growth, future endeavors, or operations. Read how to start a nonprofit corp in Florida to learn about nonprofit corporations.

If you have a small business, it is recommended that you form an LLC instead of a corporation in Florida. LLCs have more tax benefits than other structures. Besides, LLCs protect your personal assets. However, it is wise to consult a legal expert before you start setting up your business in Florida.

LLCBuddy Editorial Team

How to Start a Corporation in Florida

To start a corporation in Florida, you must follow the below steps that, include forming a corporation name, appointing a board of directors, filing for Articles of Incorporation, drafting corporate bylaws, meeting with the board of directors, issuing stocks, creating a shareholders agreement, requesting for an EIN, and getting a license and permit. All these steps are basic ones. It can be changed depending on the type of corporation you form and the nature of your business.

Step 1: Choose a Corporation Name in Florida

Naming your business is one of the most crucial activities during the startup phase. Your corporation name serves as the foundation for your brand. Legal procedures should be taken into account when choosing your corporation name. Choose a corporation name that will enable you to develop a strong brand identity without being hampered by irrelevant factors.

If you are forming an LLC, there is a complete guide on Florida LLC name guidelines for a proper LLC name. Here are some guidelines you must follow while naming your corporation in Florida-

  • Your business name must contain entity identifiers, such as “Incorporated,” “Limited,” “Corporation,” or “Company,” or an abbreviation, such as “Inc.,” “Co.,” or “Ltd.”
  • Exclude any words in your business name, such as “Trust,” “Bank,” “Credit Union,” or “Trustee,” or words related to a government agency, such as “FBI,” “State Department,” or “Treasury.”

Step 2: Board of Directors Initial Appointment

To form a corporation in Florida, you must appoint an initial board of directors before making them permanent once the corporation is formed. In Florida, you may appoint at least Three board of directors. The initial board of directors is in charge of guiding the overall strategy of your business. The structure, responsibilities, and powers given to a board of directors are determined by the bylaws of a company or organization. So, appointing your corporation’s initial board of directors in Florida is a big step in forming a corporation.

Step 3: Filing the Articles of Incorporation in Florida

After you appoint the initial board of directors in your Florida corporation, the next step is to write and file a Articles of Incorporation. In writing, the Florida Articles of Incorporation, the corporation name, principal place of business, the purpose of business, Florida Registered Agent contact information, and the names and addresses of incorporators and/or initial board members, should be written.

Filing a Articles of Incorporation in Florida may be done with two ways, online and by mail. The Articles of Incorporation fee may vary from different states. However, in Florida, it costs $35 for filing in-person and by mail.

  • Online Filing: Get the online form from Secretary of State, fill it up, and submit. Don’t refresh the page during the process. It will erase everything.
  • Offline filing: Send the form by mail to New Filing Section, Division of Corporations, P.O. Box 6327, Tallahassee, FL 32314

Step 4: Draft Corporate Bylaws

Now you are done filing a Articles of Incorporation in Florida, the next step is to draft corporate bylaws. Corporate bylaws are the basic rules that control a corporation. It includes the organization’s structure, processes, laws, and rules. As a result, all personnel, managers, and corporation members must obey the firm’s rules.

In creating corporate bylaws, you should include the following on how the decisions will be made-

  • The responsibilities are given to each officer.
  • How will judgments in business be made?
  • Where and when are the annual shareholder meetings?
  • The minimum number of shareholders required for decision-making.
  • Location and timing of dividend payments.

Step 5: Hold the First Board of Directors’ Meeting

After drafting the corporate bylaws, gather all the board of directors for the first meeting. This meeting will be finalized by appointing directors to manage the company’s daily operations, approve the bylaws, choose the corporation’s accounting year, and approve the stock issue. All board meetings should have minutes taken and stored with the company’s records.

Step 6: Issuing Stock in a Corporation

After starting your Florida corporation, one of the first official corporate actions is issuing stock to the shareholders. Keep track of the number of shares issued to each shareholder and the purchase price. A corporation in Florida is managed by its shareholders, who contribute to the business in exchange for ownership shares.

Step 7: Draft and Finalize a Shareholders Agreement

Even though drafting and finalizing a shareholders agreement is unnecessary, I suggest you still comply since it will benefit your corporation and its shareholders. A small business’s shareholders enter into a shareholder agreement contract. It establishes how ownership will be handled in unexpected situations, like a shareholder passes away, retires, becomes disabled, or quits the corporation. Early on in the life of your Florida corporation, signing a shareholders’ agreement can help maintain corporate continuity and prevent future disputes.

Step 8: Request an EIN in Florida

After everything is in place, you should get or request an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN will serve as the tax ID for your Florida corporation. EIN can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a 9-digit number similar to Social Security Number. EIN, however, is distinct from SSN. It is only used for business-related activities, particularly for submitting general taxes. The form must be completed and uploaded to the IRS website.

The application of an EIN in Florida can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The EIN online application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is 4 weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

After you have your EIN number, you can benefit in a number of ways. It will give your corporation the final advantage necessary to operate at full capacity without encountering legal or judicial issues.

Step 9: Get Licenses and Permits for your Corporation in Florida

Before your corporation operates in Florida, you must have a business license. A business license is a document issued by a government agency that permits you to operate your business in the geographic region that that agency governs. To legally operate your corporation, you’ll need a business license. Numerous corporate licenses need to be filed and renewed regularly. Check out how to get business licenses and permits in Florida to know more.

You must also register a DBA name if you intend to conduct business using a name other than your corporation’s legal name. The DBA name is sometimes known as “doing business as” or a “fictitious business name.” Depending on your location, you may need to register the DBA with your state, city, and county. You can skip this step if your business solely uses your legal company name.

Important Information

Paying your Taxes in Florida

Even if you have established your corporation in Florida, pay your taxes and keep everything up to date so you won’t pay any penalty. Unlike an LLC, there is a corporate tax that every corporation in Florida has to pay. On the other hand, they must pay income taxes based on their business income. Some other types of taxes in Florida are sales tax, franchise tax (not applicable to all the states), and other state taxes.

Cost of Forming a Corporation in Florida

A filing and annual fee must be paid to form a corporation in Florida. Without it, your corporation won’t operate. The initial filing fee for a corporation may vary depending on the state. However, in Florida, it costs $35 for filing in-person and by mail. The corporation in Florida also has to file an annual report (though it might not be mandatory, it is recommended to file one). Ensure you comply with all the necessary fees and costs so your corporation will run successfully and smoothly. If, in the future, you make any changes to your corporation, you must file the Florida Amendment. It costs $50.00 to file an amendment in Florida.

Advantages of Starting a Corporation in Florida

  1. Limited Liability: The biggest advantage of setting up a Florida corporation is that the shareholders are not personally responsible for the debts of the company. As a result, when you incorporate as a corporation, personal assets like homes, vehicles, and other possessions are prohibited. One of the main benefits of setting up a corporation over a general partnership or sole proprietorship business structure is that neither the business nor the owners are held legally responsible for the obligations of the business, even if it means giving up their personal assets.
  1. Limitless Corporation: The fact that a corporation’s existence is independent of its owners is another significant benefit of incorporation. In other words, a corporation has an endless life and will continue operating normally even if the owner dies or decides to sell their ownership.
  1. Advantages in Tax: The deduction of health insurance premium payments made on behalf of an owner-employee is one of the many financial benefits to which corporations are entitled. Corporations also save on self-employment taxes since their revenue is not subject to workers’ compensation, Social Security, or medical taxes. Tax rates on corporate profits are lower than those on individual income.

FAQs

What are the required steps to start a corporation in Florida?
To start a corporation in Florida, you’ll need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Florida Division of Corporations and complete other steps such as obtaining a Federal Tax Identification Number, appointing a registered agent, and drafting corporate bylaws.
Is it necessary to have a physical address in Florida to start a corporation?
Yes, you will need to have a physical address in Florida to start a corporation.
How much does it cost to start a corporation in Florida?
The cost to start a corporation in Florida depends on the type of corporation and the filing fees associated with it. Typically, the filing fee for Articles of Incorporation is around $125.
Who can start a corporation in Florida?
Any individual or group of individuals can start a corporation in Florida as long as they meet all the requirements and provide the necessary information.
What is the deadline to file Articles of Incorporation in Florida?
The deadline to file Articles of Incorporation in Florida is typically within 10 days of filing the application. However, the exact deadline may vary depending on the type of corporation.
What is the difference between a corporation and a limited liability company (LLC) in Florida?
The main difference between a corporation and an LLC in Florida is that a corporation is a separate legal entity while an LLC is a pass-through entity. Additionally, corporations have more formal rules and regulations than LLCs.
What is the process to start a corporation in Florida?
The process to start a corporation in Florida involves obtaining a fictitious name registration, registering the corporation with the Florida Division of Corporations, creating the articles of incorporation, appointing directors, and holding the first meeting of directors.
What is the cost of starting a corporation in Florida?
The cost of starting a corporation in Florida can vary depending on the services you select, but the basic filing fee is $70.
Are there any specific requirements to start a corporation in Florida?
Yes, corporations in Florida must have at least three directors and must register with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations.
What documents are required to start a corporation in Florida?
The documents required to start a corporation in Florida include a fictitious name registration, articles of incorporation, and a corporate resolution.
Is there a minimum capital requirement to start a corporation in Florida?
No, there is no minimum capital requirement to start a corporation in Florida.
What is the first step to start a corporation in Florida?
The first step to start a corporation in Florida is to obtain a fictitious name registration.
How long does it take to start a corporation in Florida?
The process of starting a corporation in Florida typically takes about one to two weeks.
What is the Florida Division of Corporations?
The Florida Division of Corporations is an agency within the Florida Department of State that is responsible for processing business-related documents and registering businesses in the state.
What is the difference between a corporation and an LLC in Florida?
A corporation is a separate legal entity with its own tax requirements and liability protection, while an LLC (limited liability company) is a flexible business structure that provides owners with limited liability protection, but has fewer formalities and fewer taxes.
How do I obtain a fictitious name registration in Florida?
You can obtain a fictitious name registration in Florida by filing Form DBPR-F-1 with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
How do I register my corporation with the Florida Division of Corporations?
To register your corporation with the Florida Division of Corporations, you must submit the articles of incorporation and the applicable filing fee to the Division.
What is the filing fee to register a corporation with the Florida Division of Corporations?
The filing fee to register a corporation with the Florida Division of Corporations is $70.
Do I need to appoint directors for my corporation in Florida?
Yes, all corporations in Florida must have at least three directors who are appointed by the incorporators.
Do I need to hold a meeting of directors to start a corporation in Florida?
Yes, you must hold a meeting of directors to formally organize the corporation, appoint officers, and approve bylaws.
What is a corporate resolution?
A corporate resolution is a document that outlines the actions taken by a corporation, such as the appointment of officers or the adoption of bylaws.
Do I need to obtain a business license to start a corporation in Florida?
Depending on the type of business you are operating, you may need to obtain a business license from the county or city in which the business is located.
What is the Florida Department of State?
The Florida Department of State is the state’s chief elections officer and the supervisor of the state’s registration and records. It is responsible for registering corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and trademarks in the state.
What is the Division of Corporations?
The Division of Corporations is an agency within the Florida Department of State that is responsible for processing business-related documents and registering businesses in the state.
What is a corporate seal?
A corporate seal is an embossed seal that is used to authenticate official documents and filings by the corporation.
What is an EIN?
An EIN (employer identification number) is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS that is used to identify a business for tax purposes.
How do I obtain an EIN for my corporation in Florida?
You can obtain an EIN for your corporation in Florida by filing Form SS-4 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
What are the tax implications of starting a corporation in Florida?
The tax implications of starting a corporation in Florida depend on the type of business you are operating and your level of income.
What are the annual filing requirements for corporations in Florida?
Corporations in Florida must file an Annual Report and pay the applicable filing fee each year to remain in good standing with the state.
What are the benefits of forming a corporation in Florida?
The benefits of forming a corporation in Florida include limited liability protection, tax benefits, and the ability to raise capital more easily.
How do I dissolve a corporation in Florida?
To dissolve a corporation in Florida, you must file Form DS-20 with the Florida Division of Corporations.
How do I re-register a corporation in Florida?
To re-register a corporation in Florida, you must file Form DS-20 with the Florida Division of Corporations.
What is the penalty for not filing an Annual Report for a corporation in Florida?
The penalty for not filing an Annual Report for a corporation in Florida is a fine of up to $500.00 per year.

Also Read

Why Florida Corporation is So Important

One of the key reasons why Florida Corporation is so important is its ability to stimulate economic growth. Corporations in Florida have the resources and infrastructure to start, expand, and grow businesses, which in turn generates revenue, attracts investment, and drives innovation. By creating new products and services, corporations in Florida can drive consumer demand, attract a skilled workforce, and boost economic activity across a variety of industries.

Additionally, corporations in Florida play a significant role in job creation. By hiring employees, providing training, and offering competitive wages and benefits, corporations contribute to the economic well-being of individuals and families throughout the state. Job opportunities provided by corporations in Florida help to reduce unemployment, strengthen the labor market, and empower workers to pursue their professional goals and aspirations.

Furthermore, Florida Corporation is essential in driving productivity and competitiveness. Corporations in Florida can leverage economies of scale, access capital markets, and develop strategic partnerships to stay ahead of the competition. By investing in research and development, technology, and talent, corporations in Florida can innovate and improve their products and services, enhancing their ability to meet the needs of customers and succeed in a global marketplace.

Moreover, Florida Corporation contributes to the overall prosperity of the state by generating tax revenue and supporting local communities. By paying corporate taxes, fees, and other financial obligations, corporations in Florida provide essential funding for public services, infrastructure projects, and social programs that benefit residents and businesses alike. Additionally, corporations in Florida often engage in corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropic endeavors, and community projects that make a positive impact on society and enhance the quality of life for those living and working in the state.

Ultimately, Florida Corporation is vital for the economic health and well-being of the sunshine state. By driving economic growth, creating jobs, fostering innovation, and supporting communities, corporations in Florida play a critical role in shaping the future of the state and ensuring its continued success and prosperity. As such, it is important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of corporations in Florida and support policies and initiatives that enable them to thrive, grow, and make a positive impact on the lives of all Floridians.

Conclusion

When determining which corporate form is best for you, be selective. You must know which business structure is bet-fitted for your product/service in Florida. Consult a legal professional before you take the first step while setting up your business. Finding the ideal ratio of corporate advantages and legal protection that meets your unique needs is very important. In forming a corporation in Florida, you need to ensure that every detail is well-formed so that your corporation will be successful. And if you have any questions, share them in the comment section below.

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