1. The Incorporation Process
2. Corporate Information Resources
3. Importance of Incorporation Date

Are you wondering how to know the date of incorporation of a company? This information is recorded by the state where the company was founded. You can search on the website of the state in question, use an online database, or even visit the business's website.

The Incorporation Process

To start a corporation, the founders must file articles of incorporation with the secretary of state. This document includes:

  • The name of the corporation
  • The business address
  • Officer names
  • Business purpose
  • Stock information

Typically, the filing date for the articles of incorporation is considered the company's incorporation date. However, keep in mind that this must also account for processing time, which varies by state from one to two business days to a week or longer.

You can also request a later effective date when you file your articles. For example, you may want to submit your documentation in mid-December for a January 1 incorporation date.

Corporate Information Resources

The date the articles are filed is known as the date of incorporation. This information is then made publicly available by the state. Start with the state's division of corporations if you know where the company began. Depending on the location, you may find very comprehensive information or few details about a company registered there.

Delaware is a popular location to incorporate because of its advantageous tax and legal status for businesses. The Division of Corporations maintains the entity name search for Delaware. Simply type in the name of the Delaware company you're seeking.

For publicly traded U.S. companies, search the Securities and Exchange Commission website for details that will include the business's name, mailing address, fiscal years, locations, and annual and quarterly reports.

If the corporation in question is traded on the public stock exchanges, its website must have an Investor Relations section with important public data, including the date of incorporation.

Legal databases are also a good source of company information, although they usually charge a fee. One example is CCHIntelliConnect. If you are affiliated with a university, you may be able to access these databases for free as a student or faculty member.

Accessing these databases can provide details about a company's registration number, how long they have been operating, where their registered office is, and whether the business name has ever changed. You may need this information if you are entering into a contract with a company or planning to serve process against the business. In many cases, you can also find financial details such as insolvency notices and annual reports.

Importance of Incorporation Date

The date on which a corporation began impacts the value of the business and its tax treatment. You can consider the start date of a business to be when it first begins advertising and is ready to serve customers, although this may be different than the date of incorporation. The start date is the first year in which the business is taxed. The actual date is important to determine whether startup costs of the business are deductible.

According to the IRS, you can deduct the costs of creating or investigating the creation of an active business. However, the agency's guidelines are not completely clear on the start date of a business. IRS information refers to the date of incorporation, not the date on which organizational activities began, as the start of business. However, it also notes that corporate activities such as purchasing assets can be considered a sign that a business has started.

Consider whether the company in question is a "going concern," meaning it has customers, engages in marketing and advertising, and brings in sales. A going concern isn't necessarily making a profit but is operating with the intent to do so. Some consider the start of a business the point at which it becomes a growing concern: keeping records, soliciting business, and operating as an independent entity.

If you are thinking about starting a business, talk with your tax professional about the year you should use as your start date if business activity took place over more than one year. If all start-up activity happened in the same calendar year, this is a lesser concern.

If you need help with finding the date of incorporation of a company, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.