Understanding the California LLC filing requirements ensures compliance with state laws. After you form a limited liability company (LLC), you must continue to follow certain requirements and steps to remain in good standing. Before you can operate an LLC in California, the first step is preparing and filing the required documents.

Initial and Biennial Statements of Information

California requires any LLC operating within its state lines to file a statement of information at least once every two years. You need to file your initial statement within 90 days of filing the articles of organization for your LLC. After that, a statement of information must be filed during a period of time starting on the first day of the fifth month before the LLC was officially formed and ending on the last day of the month in which the LLC was formed.

The LLC's statement of information should include the following:

  • Business name
  • File number with the California Secretary of State
  • Name and address of the registered agent
  • Business address
  • Mailing address (if different from business address)
  • Name(s) and address(es) of LLC manager(s) or member(s)
  • Email address(es), if the LLC wishes to receive its notifications and renewal notices by email
  • General business type of LLC

You can fill out the statement of information online at the Secretary of State's website. A blank copy of the statement, form LLC-12, is available online, which can be printed from your computer. Fill out the form, sign it, and file it in person or by mail. Filing your LLC's statement of information requires a $20 filing fee. For domestic stock corporations, an additional $5 disclosure is required. Make your payment out to the Secretary of State. If you don't pay the filing fee by the required date, you could be liable for a $250 penalty.

The period when you need to file the statement of information is within the calendar month or prior five calendar months to when the articles of organization were filed or when the application for registration was filed by a foreign LLC.

You would need to continue to file statements of information every two years by the end of your LLC's anniversary month. The anniversary month refers to when the original articles of organization were filed. All LLCs have a six-month filing period during which they must file the statements of information before the final due date. 

This can be confusing, but look at the filing date and count back five months from there, which is when the period starts. The last day of the month of the anniversary date is the final due date. If a California LLC filed its articles of organization on October 15 of an even-numbered year, statements should be filed between May 1 and October 30 of each even-numbered year.

Similar to the first report you filed, you can choose to complete subsequent reports online or complete and file the blank forms by mail or in person. The biennial statement filing fee in California is currently $20.

State Business Tax

Most LLCs are formed as pass-through tax entities for income taxes. Being a pass-through entity means that the responsibility to pay federal income tax passes directly through the LLC to the members of the company. The LLC is not responsible to pay federal income tax, but the members are responsible by default.

Any foreign or domestic LLC is required to pay taxes to the state Franchise Tax Board. All LLCs that are conducting business, registered, organized, or operating in California and haven't elected for corporation taxation must follow the state corporate tax rules. An LLC that doesn't elect to be taxed as a corporation would be taxed as a sole proprietorship or partnership, also referred to as disregarded entities.

Standard LLCs that do not elect for corporation taxation will be responsible for an $800 annual tax each year, imposed by the state of California. An LLC with an income over a specific level will also be required to pay additional fees. The amount of the fee is based on the total income on an annual basis.

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