How to Start an LLC in Indiana (April 2024 Update)

Meow Technologies, Inc.

Meow Technologies, Inc.

Starting a business can be an exciting yet daunting task, especially when it comes to choosing the right business structure. For many small business owners and entrepreneurs, forming a limited liability company (LLC) offers the perfect balance of liability protection, tax advantages, and organizational flexibility. So why should you consider starting an LLC specifically in Indiana?

Indiana provides a very business-friendly environment for LLCs and small businesses in general. The state offers low taxes, affordable living costs, and access to major Midwest markets like Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis. Indiana also has straightforward and inexpensive LLC filing requirements - only about $100 to register. Read on to learn more about launching an LLC in the Hoosier State.

Choosing a Name

The first step to creating your Indiana LLC is picking the perfect business name. You'll want a name that's memorable, descriptive, and attention-grabbing to customers. However, you need to follow some naming guidelines and regulations:

  • Incorporate "Limited Liability Company," "LLC," or a similar designator in the business name. This legally identifies you as an LLC.
  • Make sure your name is distinguishable from other businesses registered in Indiana. Use the Secretary of State's online database to run a name search. You don't want to choose a name that's already taken. Minor changes like adding "The" in front of the name typically won't suffice.
  • Avoid any words or phrases that could confuse your business with a government agency. For example, you cannot use acronyms like "FBI" or terms like "State Department."
  • To include words like "bank" in your LLC name requires special approval from the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions.

You can reserve your business name for 120 days by filing a name reservation request for $20 in Indiana before registering your LLC. Just make sure to run one final check....is your preferred LLC name available as an Internet domain?

Even if you don't plan to build a website immediately, you'll probably need one eventually for marketing and online visibility. Check domain name registrars like GoDaddy to see if your URL is available. If not, you can try adding location modifiers or slight name changes until you find an open domain name that aligns with your LLC name. Act fast to register it before someone else grabs your ideal web address!

Appointing a Registered Agent

Indiana law mandates that every LLC designate a registered agent on file with the Secretary of State's office. This agent is authorized to receive official documents and legal/tax notices on behalf of your business. Your registered agent must:

  • Maintain an in-state physical address (no P.O. boxes).
  • Be available at their registered Indiana office during regular business hours to receive legal papers in person if necessary.

You have a couple options when selecting a registered agent. An LLC owner, member, employee, or trusted friend/associate can serve in this role. Alternatively, you can hire an affordable registered agent service to handle everything for you and protect your privacy. Some key registered agent duties include relaying documents, reminders about deadlines and compliance filings, legal upkeep, and more.

Filing Your Articles of Organization

To formally create your LLC in Indiana, you must submit Articles of Organization and a $95-100 filing fee to the Secretary of State's office. You can mail paper forms or conveniently file online instead through Indiana's INBiz business portal after creating an account.

Your Articles of Organization will include important details like:

  • Your Indiana LLC's name and official business address
  • Registered agent's name and address
  • Whether your LLC has set duration or perpetual existence
  • Management structure - member-managed or manager-managed
  • Signature of the LLC organizer (you)

Remember, once your Articles are approved, the information becomes a matter of public record viewable online. But filing this document officially registers your LLC with the state!

Creating an Operating Agreement

While not legally required, every Indiana LLC should have an Operating Agreement for guidance and credibility. This document outlines internal business practices and financial processes agreed upon by LLC members. Treat it like a constitution or instruction manual for your LLC.

Some common sections in an Operating Agreement include:

  • Member roles, ownership percentages, voting procedures
  • Steps for adding or removing members
  • How profits and losses will be divided
  • Contributing and distributing assets
  • Amending existing terms
  • Grounds for dissolving the LLC

Having this agreement protects all LLC members and gives you operating rules beyond the default provisions in Indiana law. It shows financial institutions and courts that your business is structured professionally. And it prepares your LLC for uncertainties like adding partners down the road.

Applying for an EIN

Now that your Indiana LLC is formally registered, apply for a free Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. An EIN serves as a tax ID number for your small business, similar to how a Social Security Number (SSN) identifies individuals.

While single-member LLCs can use their SSN, having a separate EIN is recommended for liability protection. You'll also need it to open business bank accounts, apply for financing, hire employees in the future, and handle IRS tax paperwork for your LLC.

Understanding Tax Obligations

How Indiana taxes your LLC depends on whether you select pass-through taxation or corporate taxation. By default, most Indiana LLCs are taxed on a pass-through basis like sole proprietorships. This means your business itself does not pay taxes on profits. Rather, LLC members report their share of profits/losses as personal income. This avoids "double taxation."

Some LLCs may opt for corporate taxation at 4.9% instead, filing returns as a C corporation or S corporation. In those cases, you do pay taxes first as a business entity and then again individually on dividends. But electing corporate taxation unlocks extra tax deductions and possible savings for more profitable LLCs. Consult a knowledgeable tax professional to determine which structure fits your business model best.

Beyond federal income taxes, note other common state and local taxes owed by Indiana LLCs:

  • 7% retail sales tax if selling physical products
  • County income tax of around 1-3%
  • Unemployment insurance tax if you have employees
  • Self-employment taxes on member profits to fund Social
  • Security/Medicare

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

Unlike some states, Indiana does not require a general state business license. However, your Indiana LLC will likely need specific permits, certificates, and clearances from governmental agencies before opening doors. Use the Licensing Agency website to research requirements based on your LLC's activities and location in Indiana. Some examples include:

  • Food handler certificates
  • Alcohol sales permits
  • Professional certifications
  • Building permits
  • Zoning clearances

Purchasing Business Insurance

Carrying proper insurance is critical to protecting your LLC's assets and finances as a small business owner. Work with a qualified Indiana insurance broker to secure adequate coverage across these common policy types:

  • General liability insurance to guard against third-party bodily injury lawsuits on your business property
  • Professional liability insurance for "errors and omissions" in advisory services you provide
  • Product liability insurance if selling an innovative or risky item
  • Cyber liability insurance to cover data breaches
  • Vehicle/fleet coverage for company cars
  • Umbrella insurance to expand your liability coverage maximums

Some policies like workers compensation are even required under Indiana law when you start hiring W-2 employees! Don't wait until an incident happens to get insured.

Opening Business Bank Accounts

With an EIN from the IRS, you can now open dedicated business checking/savings accounts for your Indiana LLC. Maintaining separate accounts from your personal finances is extremely important for liability protection. Mixing personal and business transactions can "pierce the corporate veil", allowing creditors to seize your non-business assets in a lawsuit.

Plus if you only use one account, how will you handle accounting and taxes for your LLC's finances each year? For more information, take a look at our article on the key benefits of business checking accounts.

Marketing Your New LLC

Creating an amazing product or service through your Indiana LLC is just the first step. Marketing and customer acquisition are critical next priorities when starting any business - otherwise no one will know you exist! Some affordable channels to begin promoting your Hoosier State LLC include:

  • Building an LLC website and leveraging search engine optimization
  • Running social media and PPC ads targeted locally
  • Distributing print flyers and coupons in communities
  • Hosting an LLC launch party or networking event
  • Obtaining small business loans to expand marketing budgets
  • Joining regional chambers of commerce for partnerships
  • Volunteering time or sponsoring local Indiana causes

With persistence and creativity in outreach methods, you can get your Indiana LLC noticed despite having little startup capital. Don't try to compete nationwide right away - play to your built-in home state advantage!

Conclusion

Following the steps above makes registering an LLC in Indiana fairly straightforward for new entrepreneurs. Dedicate time upfront finding the right business name, filing all documents properly with the state to form your LLC, and formalizing internal practices through an Operating Agreement. Handling those responsibilities early allows more time focusing on insurance, taxes, marketing, and daily startup operations afterwards!

While LLC regulations can feel intimidating as a beginner entrepreneur, take it step-by-step. Breaking the process down into digestible chunks helps relieve anxiety over state filing requirements or business compliance. And know that support exists right in your backyard - over 100 free Small Business Development Center offices across Indiana offer coaching and resources to future LLC owners. Their mentorship can prove invaluable when starting out.


Meow Technologies is a financial technology company, not a bank or FDIC-depository insured institution. Likewise, Meow Technologies is not an investment adviser and none of the information presented herein should be relied upon as financial advice or a recommendation to make any financial decision nor should it be considered to be tax or legal advice. The information is the opinion of Meow Technologies for educational purposes and may not be suitable for all companies. Products, like the one described herein, are offered through Meow Technologies and are not advisory services which are only offered through Meow Advisory, LLC.** The FDICs deposit insurance coverage only protects against the failure of an FDIC-insured bank.**

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Meow currently partners with three banking providers. Banking services are provided by Third Coast Bank SSB; Member FDIC, Grasshopper Bank, N.A; Member FDIC, and FirstBank, a Tennessee corporation; Member FDIC.

By opening a Maximum Checking account through Meow and if you choose to receive banking services provided by Grasshopper Bank, N.A, you deposit your funds into a deposit account at Grasshopper Bank, N.A. which sweeps those funds into deposit accounts across a network of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”)-insured banks, for up to the current standard maximum deposit insurance amount (“SMDIA”) of $250,000 per eligible depositor, per destination institution, for each ownership capacity or category, subject to applicable terms and conditions, including Grasshopper's ICS Deposit Placement Agreement. Grasshopper Bank, N.A. uses a third-party vendor and agent to help administer this sweep process. Visit https://www.intrafi.com/network-banks/ for a list of the banks and savings associations with which we/Grasshopper, N.A. have a business relationship for the placement of deposits at destination institutions, and into which your deposits may be placed (subject to applicable terms with you, and any opt-outs by Grasshopper, N.A. or you). The current maximum deposit insurance amount for your funds is up to $125 million in FDIC insurance through the sweep network of Grasshopper Bank, N.A, subject to change at any time with notice from Meow and/or pursuant to applicable law. Terms and restrictions apply. Subject to applicable rate sheet. Interest rate on checking products quoted in Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Interest rates and yields are effective as per the date on the applicable rate sheet. See applicable terms and restrictions and refer to the applicable rate sheets for additional information.

By opening a Maximum Checking account through Meow and if you choose to receive banking services provided by Third Coast Bank SSB, you deposit your funds into a deposit account at Third Coast Bank SSB. If you also hold funds in a sweep program with Third Coast Bank SSB, Third Coast Bank SSB sweeps those funds into deposit accounts across a network of FDIC-insured banks, for up to the current SMDIA of $250,000 per eligible depositor, per receiving bank, for each ownership capacity or category, including any other balances you may hold at that receiving bank directly or indirectly through other intermediaries, including broker-dealers. Third Coast Bank SSB uses a third-party vendor and agent to help administer this sweep process. Visit Third Coast Bank SSB for a list of the banks and savings associations with which we/Third Coast Bank SSB have a business relationship for the placement of deposits at receiving banks, and into which your deposits may be placed (subject to applicable terms with you, and any opt-outs by Third Coast Bank or you). The current maximum deposit insurance amount for your funds is up to $50 Million in FDIC insurance through the sweep network of Third Coast Bank, subject to change at any time with notice from Meow and/or pursuant to applicable law. Terms and restrictions apply. Subject to applicable rate sheet. Interest rate on checking products quoted in Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Interest rates and yields are effective as per the date on the applicable rate sheet. See applicable terms and conditions and refer to the applicable rate sheet for additional information.

By opening a Maximum Checking account through Meow and if you choose to receive banking services provided by FirstBank, a Tennessee corporation, you deposit your funds into a deposit account at FirstBank, which sweeps those funds into deposit accounts across a network of FDIC-insured banks, for up to the current SMDIA of $250,000 per eligible depositor, per destination institution, for each ownership capacity or category, subject to applicable terms and conditions, including FirstBank's ICS Deposit Placement Agreement. FirstBank uses a third-party vendor and agent to help administer this sweep process. Visit IntraFi for a list of the banks and savings associations with which FirstBank has a business relationship for the placement of deposits at destination institutions, and into which your deposits may be placed (subject to applicable terms with you, and any opt-outs by FirstBank or you). The current maximum deposit insurance amount for your funds is up to $125 million in FDIC insurance through the sweep network of FirstBank, subject to change at any time with notice from Meow and/or pursuant to applicable law. Terms and restrictions apply. Subject to applicable rate sheet. Interest rate on checking products quoted in Annual Percentage Yield (APY). Interest rates and yields are effective as per the date on the applicable rate sheet. See applicable terms and restrictions and refer to the applicable rate sheet for additional information.

***FDIC insurance coverage is only available to protect you against the failure of an FDIC-insured bank that holds your deposits (and does not protect you against the failure of Meow or other third party). Your account with Meow and all services provided to you are subject to the Meow Terms of Service (“Account Agreements”) and other applicable terms and no other representations or warranties, express or implied, are provided to you except as expressly set forth in those written Account Agreements. If you have any questions regarding your account, please contact team@meow.com.

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FirstBanks general policy is to allow you to withdraw funds deposited in your account on the first business day after the day we receive your deposit. Funds from electronic deposits will be available on the day we receive the deposit. In some cases, we may delay your ability to withdraw funds beyond the first business day. Then, the funds will generally be available by the SECOND business day after the day of deposit.