Form a Corporation in South Carolina
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How to Incorporate in South Carolina
Companies looking to incorporate their business in South Carolina can turn to SunDoc for help filing some or all necessary paperwork. The incorporation process is relatively straightforward, but you'll need to follow several specific steps, which we've outlined in the following text.
Remember that this text should not be construed as professional tax, legal, or accounting advice. When you have questions about the incorporation process, speak to a professional who is licensed. At the same time, keep in mind that it is not required that you have an attorney in order to file incorporation paperwork.
Your Articles of Incorporation will be the most important filing step in the process of incorporating your business in South Carolina. Before filing this document, you will need to:
- Choose an available name for your company and decide on a corporate address
- Choose which type of corporation you’d like to form and the number of shareholders you'll have
- Choose a registered agent
- Decide how many shares you'll be allowing your corporation to issue
A Federal Tax ID number or EIN will be needed for your new corporation. You can obtain this from the IRS. You also need to hold your initial Board of Directors meeting where you will adopt bylaws and appoint officers. Neither need to be filed with the state or listed in your articles, but they are crucial for your own company records.
You must file your first Annual Report with the Department of Revenue - this is the document that lists officers and directors. Consult your accountant or tax attorney for advice on South Carolina taxation.
The most common type of corporation is the General Stock Corporation, with an unlimited potential number of shareholders. You may choose to be a Close Corporation, setting a limit in the articles on the number of shareholders (not to exceed 35). A Professional Corporation is mandated by South Carolina for certain professionals.
Some companies use the standard forms supplied by South Carolina (downloadable) to form their corporation. These forms meet all South Carolina Corporations Code requirements. However, other companies may find that it's easier to have an attorney draft custom documents.
This is the case if you’d like to change defaults on the standard articles of incorporation forms. For example, the default articles will limit your corporation to one class of shares, so this can be changed. An attorney can also create a custom document for you if you'd like to name directors in your articles. These directors must simply be present to sign the document.
Every corporation must have three officers: President, Treasurer and Secretary. One person can fill all these roles if desired. Generally a South Carolina corporation must have a minimum of three directors, except for certain cases where no shares have been issued or the shareholders are less than three. Typically the bylaws will describe the number and limit of directors, unless the articles stipulate this.
If you need to change your articles of incorporation at any time, remember that you must file an amendment with South Carolina Secretary of State. On the other hand, it's only takes a formal meeting with all shareholders and directors to change your company bylaws.
When you hold meetings with your company, remember to keep minutes. How you organize the times and methods of your meetings should be outlined in your bylaws. Other things such as the powers of your directors should be in your bylaws as well. Everything must be in accordance with the relevant provisions of the law in South Carolina.
A Corporate Records Book is where a corporation stores bylaws, company documents, stock papers and meeting minutes. Corporate Kits are useful compilations of standard documents to run the corporation, customized to your state and including such things as stock certificates, a corporate seal embosser, meeting minutes and such. SunDoc can supply you one if you wish, see our Corporate Kit page.
Every South Carolina corporation is required to have a registered agent, a company or individual reliably available at a known address during business hours, for legal and other communications from the state. This is another service provided by SunDoc to help you outsource your company routine. For full information, see our article: What is a Registered Agent? Why Do I Need One?
It's best to spend some time deciding on your company name. This is for your own best branding but also to comply with South Carolina law. SunDoc can conduct name availability searches for you or reserve your corporation name, or you can run name searches on your own.
Whatever name you choose needs to be available in your state, according to the Secretary of State records. This is necessary; otherwise, you could receive a filing rejection. Remember other rules about your name choice as well: It cannot mislead the public, and it cannot be too close to another company’s name so that it leads to deception.
You can apply for your EIN by submitting Form SS4 to the IRS, at no charge. SunDoc can apply for this on your behalf also. See our EIN page.
This article, C Corporation vs. S Corporation will provide you with information on the general differences between the two corporate tax structures.
To talk to a live voice for immediate assistance call us toll-free during business hours at 1-888-595-2747.
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