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Kentucky LLC Simple Start Guide

Kentucky LLC Simple Start Guide

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Kentucky LLC Simple Start Guide

When you’re ready to take the plunge and start your own business, there are a few basic steps you’ll need to take in order to get started. One of those first steps is choosing a business structure, and in this guide, I’ll walk you through how to start an LLC in Kentucky, what paperwork is needed, and more.

Related: Guide to starting a business in Kentucky

What is an LLC?

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular business structure for many startups in Kentucky.  The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes.

Related: How does an LLC protect you?

Unlike a sole proprietorship or general partnership, where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal entity that protects the business owner’s personal assets. So, if the LLC is sued, the owner’s personal assets are usually protected.

Besides liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration, and management flexibility.

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Steps To Form A Kentucky LLC

Step 1: Choose a Name for the LLC

The first step in forming a Kentucky Limited Liability Company is to make sure the name you want is available. This step is important because the name of each LLC must be distinguishable from other entity names registered in the state of Kentucky. The Kentucky Secretary of State makes it easy to do a Kentucky LLC name search so you can quickly check to verify if your LLC name is available. 

In addition to the name being unique, the entity designator (identifier used at the end of the business name) must be either:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Limited Company
  • Ltd. Company
  • Limited Co.
  • Ltd. Co.
  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LC
  • L.C.

If there is a name you want to register but are not ready to form the LLC, an optional Name Reservation form is available.  The Name Reservation will hold a name for 120 days.

Before finalizing the LLC name, you may also want to see if a domain name is also available to have a matching website address.

Step 2: Appoint a Kentucky Registered Agent

In Kentucky, every LLC must designate a registered agent. A registered agent is simply an individual or company with a Kentucky street address who is responsible for any legal correspondence. This commonly includes the receipt of legal documents, such as lawsuit notifications, on behalf of the business.

While many LLC owners opt to fulfill this role themselves, some owners choose to hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent. Utilizing a registered agent service ensures that your LLC adheres to state requirements while offering an added layer of convenience and confidentiality since the owner’s personal address isn’t disclosed in public records.

Related: What is a Kentucky registered agent

Step 3: File the Kentucky LLC Articles of Organization

The paperwork to officially create an LLC in Kentucky is called the Articles of Organization. To submit the paperwork, either file online through the Kentucky OneStop Business Portal or download and mail the Articles of Organization to the Kentucky Secretary of State.

Related: How to fill out the Kentucky Articles of Organization

When filling out the Articles of Organization, there are a few sections that can be a bit confusing. I’ll explain some of these to help get your LLC started right.

Principal office address: In this section, enter the physical street address, city, state, and zip code of the initial principal office.  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, or it can be the address where the business records are stored.  This does not have to be an address in Kentucky, but you may not use a PO Box for the designated office.

Member-Managed or Manager-Managed: This section asks if the LLC is Member-Managed or Manager-Managed.

  • Member-Managed LLCs have members (owners) who are active in the day-to-day operations of the business.
  • Manager-Managed LLCs have managers hired by the LLC members to run the LLC, similar to a CEO of a corporation.

Most LLCs are member-managed.  Select the one that applies and click on “Next.”

Related: What is the difference between a Member-Managed LLC and Manager-Managed LLC?

Business representative: This section asks for information about the business representative.  If one of the members is filling out the Articles of Organization, most will select “Individual” from the first box and LLC Organizer from the second.  An additional menu will pop up, asking for contact information.  Once entered, click on the “Next” button to continue.

Delayed effective date: The next step asks about the effective date of the LLC.  By default, the LLC is effective on the date submitted.  If you prefer to have the LLC officially start at a later date, up to 90 days in the future, you can enter the start date.

Business administrators: One business administrator must be assigned to the Limited Liability Company.  Many will select the checkbox to appoint the business representative to be the administrator. 

File the Beneficial Owner Information Report

Beginning in 2024, any individual who owns at least 25% or has “substantial control” of an LLC or corporation in Kentucky or any other state must file the Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) form with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). BOI reports are filed electronically through FinCEN’s website.

If you are worried about making a mistake when forming your LLC, or just don't want to deal with filling out state paperwork, an LLC formation service will help guide you through the process. My top recommended services include:

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What To Do After Starting A Kentucky LLC

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare a Kentucky LLC Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed, and more.

Most states do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement, but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished.
  • Members may not fully understand their roles and responsibilities, which could lead to costly disputes in the future.

Related: Kentucky operating agreement template

Obtain an EIN

If the LLC will hire employees or is owned by more than one member, an EIN is required. 

The EIN or Employer Identification Number (also referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number, FEIN, or Federal Tax ID Number) is a unique 9-digit tax identification number assigned to a business by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes.

Related: How to apply for an EIN

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.

Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account, such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • Driver’s licenses of the members.
  • In some circumstances, a Kentucky Certificate of Good Standing may be needed to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be various business licenses and permits needed before starting. Some common registrations include:

  • Business license: There isn’t a statewide business license, but some cities require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start.
  • Professional license: In Kentucky, certain services such as barbershops, accountants, salons, and others must be licensed.
  • Sales tax permit: To sell products and certain services in the state, a sales tax permit from the Kentucky Department of Revenue will be necessary.

Related: What business licenses are needed in Kentucky?

File Kentucky LLC Annual Reports

LLCs are required to file an annual report with the Kentucky Secretary of State.  The annual report and $15 state filing fee are due between January 1st and June 30th each year.

Additionally, there is a Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET) that is based on the gross profits of corporations and Limited Liability Companies. The tax is based on the percentage of sales, with a minimum tax of $175.

Related: How to file a Kentucky LLC Annual Report

Kentucky LLC FAQs

How much does it cost to start an LLC in Kentucky?

There is a filing fee of $40 to start an LLC in Kentucky.

There is no fee if the LLC is veteran-owned.

Is there a yearly fee for an LLC in Kentucky?

Each year, a Kentucky LLC will need to file the Annual Report and pay the $15 annual fee. In addition, there is also a $175 (minimum) Limited Liability Entity Tax due each year.

How long does it take for an LLC to be approved in Kentucky?

It normally takes one business day when filing online or about one week when filing by mail for the state to process the Kentucky LLC paperwork.

What is a Foreign Limited Liability Company?

A Kentucky foreign LLC is an LLC that was formed in another state but wants to physically operate in Kentucky. Physically operating means having a presence, such as having an office or hiring an employee.

Related: What is a foreign LLC?

What is a Professional Limited Liability Company?

Businesses that require occupational licensing in Kentucky, such as accountants, architects, veterinarians, etc., will want to file for a Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC) instead of an LLC. Filing for a PLLC is very similar to that of an LLC.

Related: What is a Professional Limited Liability Company?

Kentucky LLC Simple Start Guide

Kentucky LLC Simple Start Guide

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