One of the most common questions I get from clients and friends alike who are starting a new business is “what is the easiest and cheapest way to set up an LLC?”
In addition to using them for my own LLCs, I always refer everyone to IncFile, because they are easily the cheapest, fastest, and when you know what to order using their system — make sure to read the whole guide, most new businesses can often get away with their basic no-fee package.
IncFile’s LLC registration process is extremely simple. You can finish it in around 10 minutes, while avoiding paying any service fees, and you should receive your digital documents fast (mine have always been within 48 hours).
So what’s the ‘catch’ with them not charging service fees?
IncFile doesn’t charge fees on their basic LLC registration package, but you will be prompted throughout your checkout process to optionally purchase other packages and a number of “upsells” that you may or may not need. Additional services and packages like expedited registration, EIN numbers, contract templates, tax consultation, etc.
While I can only speak for my own LLCs and the several dozen I’ve helped friends with, I’ve always just selected the basic package and received all documents online within 48 hours, even though it says it may take much longer unless you opt for the higher fee paid packages.
Since I know I don’t want any of what else is being offered (or it actually does come with the basic package, just isn’t listed), I click “no” on all the upsells, pay the basic service package ($0 + State Fee), and everything I need for the State and to open up new business checking accounts gets delivered online via e-mail with a login link to their website where I download everything.
INCFILE’S UPSELLS: DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED ANY OF THEM?
Aside from the basic package, IncFile also offers a Gold Package ($149 + State Fee) and Platinum Package ($299 + State Fee, includes everything in Gold).
It’s important to keep in mind that you may not need a lot of what’s included in these two paid packages, as some of it actually is included with the Basic package (just not listed), and many inclusions can easily be done yourself and/or found online for free.
Let’s run through each of the ones IncFile offers in their Gold and Platinum LLC packages so you can decide for yourself. As you’ll see, Gold may be appropriate for some businesses, but it would be really hard to justify the Platinum.
EIN Business Tax ID Number (Gold): One of the upsells you’ll encounter (and the only thing that really matters for most businesses) is to have them file your EIN (business tax ID number) for you. You should know that this is something you can VERY easily do online yourself — for free, in a matter of minutes and you will immediately get a downloadable PDF directly from the IRS’s website (linked below) with your EIN number.
If you’re only getting a higher package for the EIN filing, just take 5 minutes and do it yourself.
After you go through the process on IncFile, just visit this page on the IRS website at any time Mon – Fri, 7am – 10pm Eastern and answer a few basic questions about your business. You can thank us later.
IRS Form 2553 (Gold): While this isn’t necessary for many LLCs (I’ve never needed it, it’s for converting to an S Corp filing status), the IRS Form 2553 is also available for free online.
Operating Agreement (Gold): States don’t require you to have an Operating Agreement to open an LLC and you won’t need one to open up your business bank or credit accounts, either.
An Operating Agreement is what outlines the ownership and member duties of your Limited Liability Company. It’s where you define financial and working relations among business owners (“members”) and between members and managers.
Having one is an optional internal document and there are plenty of templates available online should you decide to make one without using IncFile.
Banking Resolution (Gold): As a single-member LLC, you won’t need one. You’re the only one on the LLC, so there won’t be any confusion on who in your company can open a bank account. And if you’re adding all partners/owners to your business bank account — with everyone available to open the account, you won’t need one either.
In other cases where there will need to be clarification on who can open an account on your business’s behalf, a Banking Resolution may be needed.
If this is something you decide not to use IncFile for, you can find templates online by Googling “Bank Resolution Template.”
Gold Kit Professional Box (Gold): With earlier businesses, I always opted for LLC packages that included the box with my business name on it that came with all of my documents and a raised stamp seal. After using the documents needed within, these things sat on a shelf and were never touched again.
As previously mentioned, the documents you need for bank accounts are sent to you electronically, which you can either print and take to your bank, or submit online if you’re opening an account online (which is my preferred way).
If you want the box with your name on it — which some people do, then opt for the Gold Package.
Express Shipping (Gold): If you have nothing to ship (as in, your LLC documents are sent to you digitally), this obviously won’t matter. And, even if you do, you’ll still get your documents digitally before your “Gold Kit Professional Box” is sent to you.
Lifetime Company Alerts (Gold): These are reminders of when to file your required State filings and related fees. If your state doesn’t already send you reminders, you can opt for this paid service or simply put a reminder in your calendar.
Online Access Dashboard (Gold): I’m really not sure why they list this in their Gold Package as you definitely an Online Access Dashboard with even the Basic Package. That’s how your documents are delivered!
Unlimited Phone & Email Support (Gold): While I haven’t ever needed to use their support, I’m 99% sure this is another feature that all packages already get (as in, basic customer service), but they added to the list of premium packages so it looks like they include more.
Business Banking Account (Gold): This isn’t really an inclusion as every bank that offers business accounts will obviously be able to provide you a bank account. IncFile has a relationship with Bank Of America, so they’ll just be referring you to Bank Of America to open an account.
Should you choose to use Bank Of America, you can easily open an account yourself through their website, which will just have you send them the digital documents that IncFile provides you through your Online Access Dashboard.
Business Tax Consultation (Gold): Ignoring what is listed on the packages, all IncFile purchases will give you an optional 1-hour tax consultation call, which will answer your questions and provide you information on additional paid tax services.
Business Contract Templates (Platinum): The biggest inclusion in the Platinum Package is that you’ll be provided access to 25+ Business Contract Templates, which will include general templates for things like a Non-Disclosure Agreement, Bill of Sale, Release of Liability, Sales Agreements, Consulting Agreements, etc.
While there isn’t anything wrong with using templates from IncFile for these, it wouldn’t make much sense to pay $150 for the package that includes them. Sites like RocketLawyer offer substantially more Business Contract Templates (120+) — along with a ton of other inclusions, and you can get everything for $39 a month (which you could cancel after downloading what you need).
Expedited Filing (Platinum): As mentioned, while I can only speak for Nevada, my LLCs filed with the basic package on IncFile were delivered to my Online Dashboard in under two business days…even though the upsells said it would take way longer.
FedEx Delivery (Platinum): The only thing that can be shipped is if you’ve opted for the Gold Package that includes the LLC box and that already has “expedited shipping” included.
Domain Name + Business Email (Platinum): Similar to the Business Account being included in the Gold Package — which will then refer you to Bank Of America for an already free account, IncFile isn’t a domain registrar or a hosting company, so you’ll be referred to a partner company for the free domain name and email.
While we haven’t gone through the ordering process for their Platinum Package, more than likely you’ll be referred to Bluehost or Squarespace, which include a free domain name and email with all packages (something you’ll need anyway if you want to put up a website).