Maine has long been known for its hard-working, entrepreneurial spirit. From lobster trappers to potato farmers, Maine residents have a knack for starting and operating successful small businesses. If you’re considering incorporating your Maine business, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know, from the benefits of incorporating to filing your paperwork and staying compliant after formation.
Forming a corporation, rather than operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, comes with a few key advantages:
To gain those advantages, you will have to jump through a few administrative hoops. Below are the six key steps to incorporating your business in the state of Maine:
Every corporation in Maine must have a unique business name that includes a designation like: Corporation, Incorporated, Company or Limited, or their abbreviations.
You can verify name availability by searching the Secretary of State’s database. If the name you want is taken, you may have to get creative with variations until you land on something distinct. Alternatively, you can pay $20 to reserve a name for 120 days while you hammer out other incorporation details.
A registered agent is an individual or business entity that is authorized to accept service of process (legal paperwork like subpoenas or lawsuits) on behalf of your corporation. Basically, they act as your business’s point person for official communications.
Maine requires that you appoint a registered agent that meets the following criteria:
Many business owners choose to use a registered agent service to keep their personal address private and ensure time-sensitive legal papers don’t get missed.
The Articles of Incorporation form the legally binding contract that establishes your business as a Maine Corporation. They must be filed with the Secretary of State, either online or by mail, along with the $145 filing fee.
Information required on the Articles includes:
The Secretary of State’s staff will review your filing and, as long as everything looks good, approve formation of your corporation within 2 weeks.
Bylaws act as an operating manual, laying out internal governance rules for your Maine corporation like:
Under Maine law, corporations are not required to file their bylaws, but they must be kept with other business records and produced if requested by regulators.
Shortly after your approval from the Secretary of State, you must hold an initial organizational meeting of the shareholders listed in your Articles of Incorporation. That meeting should cover things like:
Be sure to document the meeting with formal minutes showing votes/decisions made. Those records will be vital if the corporation ever faces lawsuits over internal policies or power struggles.
With your business now formally incorporated, there’s still a few loose ends to tie up:
You did it – your business is officially a corporation under Maine law! But the paperwork isn’t over. Maintaining your incorporation status involves a few recurring filings and fees:
A $85 annual report must be filed with the Secretary of State between January 1 and June 1 each year. This form confirms or updates basic information like your registered agent, business address, and officers.
At tax time, be prepared to file:
Keep detailed records on things like shareholder meetings, stock issuances, and company contracts/transactions. These will be indispensable if you ever face lawsuits or tax audits down the road.
Structuring your Maine business as a corporation does come with upfront time/costs - but the liability protections and operational flexibility afforded make it worthwhile for many business owners. Armed with this guide, you should have all the details needed to sail through the incorporation process.