Ok, gang, it’s official: I are a corporation.
Setting up a corporation for yourself sounds fraught with complication, in the I-don’t-even-want-to-deal-with-it-let’s-just-forget-this-whole-thing kind of way. But once I started looking into it, it was really remarkably easy.
- Step One: I searched for, and found, a good URL.
This is harder than it sounds. Every single word in the English language is already taken, and a lot of combinations, too. And you must, must, must have a domain that ends in .com. No good if your domeain is .net, .biz, or .mobi. (.mobi?) No one will ever remember it.
One good way to find a URL is to use a resource a friend turned me onto: Bustaname.com. You can put in a big ol’ list of words, and it will tell you which combos are available. I myself landed on SimpleMystery.com.
- Step Two: I reserved a name with the Georgia Secretary of State.
Georgia lets you do this with an online form. They make you add Inc., Incorporated, LLC, or some such suffix, so I am officially Simple Mystery, Inc.
- Step Three: I filed the corporation.
Another online form let me do this in about fifteen minutes. They didn’t want anything special, just the company’s address, my name, and the names of the company’s CEO, CFO, and secretary (hint: they all start with a J).
I also had to declare the number of shares the company was authorized to issue. Mark said 10 million was a typical number, so that’s what I put down. Georgia doesn’t keep records of who the shares belong to; only the corporation does. So at some point I will need to just type up a letter issuing the shares to myself and stick it in the file.
- Step Four: I filed my annual registration.
Just another form saying yes, the company I just incorporated still exists, and yes, it is still in the same location. I will have to file this form once a year between January and March.
- Step Five: I published my intent to incorporate.
I live in Dekalb county, which means my legal organ is the Champion Newspaper. I paid them to publish the company’s name, address, and registered agent (me) once a day for two weeks.
- Step Six: I applied for an EIN from the IRS.
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is necessary in order to file the corporation’s federal taxes. Plus do other neat stuff like hire employees and get bank accounts. Once again, this was made easy with an online form, although said form is only available during certain times. Strange. But we are dealing with the federal government now.
Like the others, this form took just about fifteen minutes to fill out. The only minor hiccup was that it would accept no special characters in the name of the business, which means that Georgia thinks I’m operating as “Simple Mystery, Inc.” and the IRS thinks I’m operating as “Simple Mystery Inc”. This doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that could possibly cause any confusion, but as I said, we are dealing with the feds. So, I am moderately concerned.
- Step Seven: I elected to have my company taxed as an S Corp.
I did this by filing IRS form 2553 and shipping it off the the good people at the Internal Revenue Service. Of all the forms, this was the most confusing, but only mildly so. It just wasn’t entirely clear whether I was supposed to choose the calendar year as my tax year, or a fiscal year beginning on the date of my incorporation. I chose the calendar year because it seemed simpler.
This form needed to be filed within two months and fifteen days of the day I incorporated. Oddly enough, the long deadline makes it the easiest step to forget; most of the Georgia stuff needed to happen in one fell swoop.
- Total Cost of Incorporation: $205
So there, in a nutshell, you have the beginnings of my journey into the wonderful world of incorporated business. It was fairly easy, and reasonably cheap. I’ve got no guarantee of making that money back through tax incentives, but it’s possible. And either way, owning my own company is a thrilling feeling. It’s like I’m a grown up or something.