How to Start an LLC in Massachusetts

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in Massachusetts

It’s easy to form an LLC in Massachusetts online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the MA Certificate of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN

Or, use a professional service:

four point eight out of five stars Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + State Filing Fee)

three point four out of five stars LegalZoom ($79 + State Filing Fee)

Starting a Massachusetts LLC is Easy

You can form a Massachusetts LLC online by filing the Massachusetts Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The cost to create an LLC in Massachusetts is $500.

Follow our How to Start an LLC in Massachusetts guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in Massachusetts

For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Start an LLC guide.

Step 1: Create A Name For Your Massachusetts LLC

Before you register your Massachusetts LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.

We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.

Naming Your LLC

First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.

Next, make sure your name meets Massachusetts guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, or the abbreviation LLC or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without approval
  • it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in Massachusetts
  • full list of Massachusetts naming rules

Next, do a Massachusetts LLC name search with the Secretary of the Commonwealth to find out if your name is available in Massachusetts.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Massachusetts Certificate of Organization with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.

We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.

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Once you register a domain name for your LLC, consider setting up a business phone system to establish credibility and enhance your customer service. Nextiva provides a plethora of useful features and a quick, easy setup. Try Nextiva.

Using a Massachusetts Business Certificate (DBA)

A Massachusetts DBA (doing business as), also known as a business certificate, is any registered name that a business operates under that isn't its legal business name. A business certificate can be used by any type of business, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Learn how to get a DBA in our Massachusetts DBA guide.

Step 2: Appoint A Massachusetts LLC Resident Agent

When you file your Certificate of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent, known as a resident agent in Massachusetts.

A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC. To learn more about Massachusetts Registered Agents, read our guide.

Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:

  • You’ll need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
  • You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent services when you form your LLC ($29 plus state fees).

Step 3: File A Massachusetts LLC Certificate of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Certificate of Organization with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth.

You can file online with the Secretary of the Commonwealth or fill out a hard copy of MA Certificate of Organization and mail it in. The filing fee is $500. 

Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.

You'll need to know the following information to complete each Article:

  1. Entity Name and Address
  2. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  3. Manager Information
  4. Business Purpose

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our Massachusetts Certificate of Organization guide.

Mail Your Certificate of Organization:

Send the form and payment (payable to the Secretary of the Commonwealth) to:

Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1717
Boston, MA 02108

How long does it take to get a Massachusetts LLC approved? LLC processing time is 4 hours online post-payment, or 4 to 5 business days by mail. Expedited filings are also available.

Step 4: Create A Massachusetts LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a Massachusetts LLC operating agreement is the only way to legally lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having an operating agreement in place will give you something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises. 

Even single-member LLCs benefit from having an operating agreement.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • Each member’s responsibilities
  • How new members will be admitted
  • How existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • How profits and dividends will be distributed

You can add as many provisions as you want, as long as they don't conflict with Massachusetts law. Take a look at our What is an Operating Agreement guide to learn more.

Download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of Massachusetts will use this number to track your business activity.

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in Massachusetts is by using the free online application on the IRS website.

Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.

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Steps After Forming an LLC in Massachusetts

After forming your Massachusetts LLC, it's important to:

Open A Business Bank Account

A business bank account helps separate personal expenses and company expenses, which is required to maintain your Massachusetts LLC's corporate veil. A corporate veil protects your personal assets from creditors in potential lawsuits against your LLC or Business.

Learn more by reading this guide to Banking for Entrepreneurs. For a multi-member LLC, you'll also want to set up capital accounts for members. We also recommend checking out our review of the best business bank accounts.

Get A Business Credit Card

A business credit card will help separate personal and business expenses while building your company's credit history. A strong credit history will be useful for raising capital in the form of venture capital, angel investment, or small business loans.

Set Up Business Accounting 

Hiring a business accountant is one of the best ways to ensure you’re taking advantage of LLC tax benefits; possibly saving you and your business thousands of dollars per year.

When forming an LLC in Massachusetts, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a business accountant as soon as you start your business to help set your company up for success.

Get Business Insurance 

Business insurance helps manage risk. The most common forms of business insurance are general liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation.

Find out the real cost of getting insurance for your business. Get a free quote or call 855-965-3168.

Keep Your Company Compliant

Research Massachusetts Business Licenses and Permits

To operate an LLC in Massachusetts, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations such as health permits, building permits, and signage permits. 

Business licensing and permit requirements vary from state to state. To get started, visit our How to Get a Massachusetts Business License guide. To help facilitate this process, you can also utilize a business license services.

File Your Massachusetts LLC Annual Report

Massachusetts LLCs must file an annual report with the Secretary of the Commonwealth every year. This can be submitted online using the Corporations Online Filing System or by mail, fax, or in person using the state’s annual report form. The filing fee is $500 for online filings and $520 for hard copy filings. Note that fax filings must include a fax voucher.

Understand Massachusetts State Tax Requirements

Massachusetts businesses selling a physical product are generally required to register for a seller’s permit with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Visit our Massachusetts Sales Tax guide to learn more about seller’s permits and Massachusetts sales tax.

If you have employees in Massachusetts, you will also need to sign up for unemployment insurance tax through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance as well as sign up for employee withholding tax through the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect Portal.

Understand Your Massachusetts LLC’s Federal Tax Requirements

Most Massachusetts LLCs will need to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year using Form 1065 Partnership Return (multi-member LLCs) or Form 1040 Schedule C (single-member LLCs).

How you pay yourself will affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

Know Your Massachusetts LLC’s Federal Tax Election Options

Pass-through taxation entails a business’s profits passing through to the LLC member’s individual tax returns. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity, also known as a disregarded entity. 

Once this process is completed and after any tax-deductible expenses are taken out, the LLC members pay self-employment taxes and income tax on their portion of the business income. 

Alternatively, Massachusetts LLCs can choose to elect to be taxed as an S corporation (S corp) or C corporation (C corp). If S corporation tax status is elected, LLC members can be taxed as employees of the business, potentially reducing tax burden.

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