How to Start an LLC in Montana: 6-Step Guide 

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    Establishing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Montana provides entrepreneurs with an adaptable and uncomplicated business structure that offers liability protection and potential tax benefits. To initiate the process, individuals looking to start a business must follow specific guidelines set forth by the Montana Secretary of State.

    This comprehensive guide will assist you in navigating the essential steps necessary to form your LLC in the scenic state of Montana, from selecting a unique and appropriate business name to filing important formation documents like Articles of Organization.

    Whether you are new to entrepreneurship or have extensive experience in the business world, it’s vital to comprehend the fundamental aspects of LLC formation in Montana. This knowledge will ensure a seamless and legally compliant start as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey.

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    How to Start an LLC in Montana: Basic Steps

    Establishing a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Montana can be a multi-step procedure. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview to assist you along the way. It’s important to note that the specific criteria and regulations may undergo revisions, therefore seeking advice from a legal or business expert or referencing the Montana Secretary of State’s website for the latest information is highly recommended.

    1. Choose a Business Name

    If you have made the decision to establish your business as a Montana LLC, the initial step is to choose an appropriate name for your company. However, it’s crucial to thoroughly investigate and evaluate options before making a final decision.

    Is Your Chosen Name Available?

    Montana has established protocols aimed at safeguarding the distinctiveness of business names registered within the state. Consequently, it’s imperative to conduct a thorough state business name search to ascertain the availability of your preferred name.

    When formally naming your Montana LLC, it’s mandatory to incorporate a designated term into the legal name. This entails appending one of the following expressions or abbreviations:

    • Limited Liability Company
    • Limited Company
    • Limited Co.
    • Ltd. Company
    • Ltd. Co.
    • L.L.C. or LLC
    • L.C. or LC

    Is Your Name Distinctive?

    After ensuring that your preferred name is available, it’s important to check that it’s distinct enough from existing business names. Names that are too similar may be rejected for lacking uniqueness. For example, if you want to use the name SeaSwell but there is already a company called SeeSwell in Montana, your chosen name would not stand out as different.

    Is Your Name in Use in Other States?

    Once you have verified that your name is unique and not already in use within Montana, conduct a comprehensive search across the entire country using the online database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This valuable resource will aid in identifying any potential conflicts with businesses that have adopted the same name in different states.

    To ensure ample time for conducting a thorough search, it’s advisable to reserve your desired name with the state for a period of up to 120 days. Upon discovering an available name, it would be wise to consider trademarking it as well. This step will help secure exclusive rights to your chosen name and prevent any competitors from utilizing it without permission.

    Consider Registering a Trade Name

    If you don’t want to use your complete formal business name, including the LLC designation, in your branding, you have the option to register a trade name with the Montana Secretary of State’s office. A trade name is a less formal version of your official name and is commonly used for marketing purposes.

    Before proceeding with registering trade names, it’s recommended to conduct thorough searches at both the state level and nationwide for trademarks. This will help avoid any complications related to availability and potential intellectual property conflicts.

    2. Select a Registered Agent in Montana

    Ensuring compliance with Montana state requirements, it’s essential to appoint a registered agent for your LLC.

    What exactly does a registered agent do? A registered agent serves as the designated recipient of important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of them as the main liaison between your company and the state authorities.

    Who is eligible to act as a registered agent? The role of a registered agent can be fulfilled by either a resident of Montana or a corporation, such as a specialized service, that has authorization to operate within the state. You have the option to designate an individual within your own organization, including yourself, as the registered agent.

    3. File Montana LLC Articles of Organization

    The submission of articles of organization to the state signifies the formal recognition of your company’s establishment by Montana authorities and authorizes its commencement. Prior to composing this document, ensure you have the following details prepared:

    • The legal name of your company
    • The principal mailing address of your company
    • The name and address of your Montana LLC’s registered agent
    • The names and addresses of your LLC members (and managers, if applicable)
    • Clarification on whether your LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed
    • An indication of the anticipated dissolution date of your LLC if it’s not intended to exist indefinitely

    4. Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

    Your main association with the government is usually linked to your Social Security number (SSN). Although there may be others who share the same name, your SSN sets you apart uniquely. Likewise, Federal Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) act as unique identifiers for businesses, distinguishing one company from another in the eyes of government entities, lenders, and creditors.

    Key Insight: Obtaining an EIN is a prerequisite for various activities such as opening a bank account, fulfilling state tax obligations, hiring employees, or seeking business funding. The process of applying for an EIN is free of charge and can be conveniently completed online.

    5. Create an Operating Agreement

    Although not mandatory for your Montana LLC, creating an operating agreement is highly recommended, particularly if you’re forming a multi-member LLC. This document serves as a contract among members, allowing you to formalize agreements on issues that, if left unaddressed, could potentially result in disputes and legal complexities.

    The operating agreement covers various matters, including:

    • Determining whether the company will be taxed separately or on members’ personal tax returns
    • Considering indemnification and liability concerns
    • Allocating the percentage of business ownership to each member
    • Outlining member duties, powers, and responsibilities
    • Establishing protocols for profit distribution and loss management

    Because the operating agreement carries legal significance, seeking advice from a knowledgeable small business attorney is advisable before finalizing and executing the document. This ensures that your interests are protected while you concentrate on enhancing your business’s profitability.

    6. Submit the Annual Report

    Montana-based Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are required to electronically submit their annual report to the Secretary of State before April 15th annually. Along with the report, a filing fee of $20 must be paid. 

    If the submission is made after the deadline, a penalty fee of $15 will be imposed. Failure to file an annual report may lead to the dissolution of LLCs by the state, with potential dissolution proceedings beginning from December 1st onwards each year.

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    Ensure Regulatory Compliance for Your Company

    Montana LLC Business Licenses & Permits

    In order to successfully start your LLC, it’s crucial to comply with the regulations set forth by the federal, state, and local governments. The fees and requirements for obtaining licenses and permits will differ depending on the particular type of business license that’s required.

    Montana LLC Tax Obligations

    It’s essential to stay up-to-date with the tax requirements for your Montana LLC in order to ensure the continued good standing of your business. Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or multiple tax categories.

    Montana Sales Tax

    Montana stands out as one of the five states that don’t impose a sales tax on goods or services subject to taxation.

    Montana Employer Taxes

    Registration for Unemployment Insurance Tax with the Montana Department of Labor & Industry is obligatory for businesses that have employees in Montana. Furthermore, it’s essential to enroll in Employee Withholding Tax with the Montana Department of Revenue.

    Income Tax


    Montana utilizes a seven-tier structure for personal income taxes, which spans from 1% to 6.75%. The exact tax rate that applies to the income of your LLC is contingent upon your unique circumstances.

    It’s necessary to file state tax returns on a yearly basis by April 18th. To calculate your taxes or ascertain the appropriate tax bracket, please consult Montana’s Business & Income Tax Division website.


    In order to fulfill one’s federal income tax responsibilities, there are two forms that can be utilized depending on the type of LLC. For multi-member LLCs, Form 1065 is required, while single-member LLCs must use Form 1040 Schedule C.

    Industry-Specific Fees

    Businesses involved in the trade of regulated products such as alcoholic beverages or cannabis might encounter supplementary charges and tax responsibilities. For industry-specific information, please consult the website of the Department of Revenue (DOR).

    Hiring Employees in Montana

    To ensure legal compliance when hiring employees, follow these steps:

    • Verify that new employees are authorized to work in the US
    • Report new hires to the state authorities
    • Obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employees
    • Deduct employee taxes as required
    • Display workplace compliance posters prominently within your workspace

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    Explore Business Insurance Choices in Montana

    Creating an LLC is of utmost importance when it comes to protecting your personal assets and maintaining a distinct boundary between your business and personal life. However, in order to ensure the seamless functioning of your LLC, it’s crucial to take into account different insurance policies that cater to the everyday requirements of your business.

    The state law in Montana makes it obligatory for employers to have workers’ compensation insurance as well as automobile insurance for commercial vehicles. Furthermore, although not mandated by the state, landlords, lenders, or event organizers may require certain policies as per their own terms and conditions.

    The oversight of the insurance market in Montana is within the purview of the state Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. The commissioner’s website offers valuable resources for owners of LLCs who are seeking suitable insurance coverage. Some commonly recommended policies include:

    • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Montana LLCs with employees must provide workers’ compensation insurance, covering medical expenses and financial compensation for employees injured on the job. This coverage doesn’t extend to independent contractors.
    • Commercial General Liability Insurance (CGL): CGL insurance safeguards business assets against claims arising from bodily injury, property damage, slander, libel, or misleading advertising.
    • Professional Liability Insurance: This policy protects against malpractice accusations, providing coverage for professional errors or negligence.
    • Commercial Automobile Insurance: Whether a vehicle is used for commercial or personal purposes in Montana, it must be insured under automobile insurance.
    • Unemployment Insurance: Paying Montana unemployment insurance tax supports the state’s unemployment insurance fund, which aids laid-off workers.

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    Initiate Your Marketing Efforts

    When formulating your business plan, it’s highly likely that you have already outlined tactics for boosting brand visibility and fostering customer loyalty to promote your new venture. As your company approaches its opening date, it becomes essential to put these plans into action. If you have not given due consideration to the role of your online presence in your marketing efforts, it’s time to prioritize this aspect.

    Both potential and existing customers frequently seek information on how they can connect with your company online. Hence, having a robust website centered around your brand is imperative before you open for business. Furthermore, establishing business accounts on popular social media platforms and regularly posting content—ideally every week—is crucial.

    If navigating the digital realm isn’t within your expertise, there is no need to worry. You don’t have to personally manage every aspect of launching an LLC in Montana. Instead, seek assistance from someone well-versed in online strategies. 

    Building a strong online presence constitutes a significant investment for any new business venture—a lack thereof may result in all the hard work you put into going unnoticed by those who could greatly benefit from what you offer.

    How to Start an LLC in Montana – Buyer’s Guide

    What Is an LLC?

    A limited liability company (LLC) is a formal business arrangement that allows owners, known as LLC members, to have direct control over the company’s operations without the need for incorporation or the appointment of a board of directors.

    Typically, these companies establish an LLC operating agreement to outline the structure and different membership classes. These classes include managing members who oversee day-to-day operations and non-managing members who hold an ownership stake but don’t actively participate in daily activities. It’s also possible to have a single-member LLC with only one owner.

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies LLCs as having a pass-through tax structure. This means that any profits or losses generated by the company are passed through to the individual LLC members, who then report them on their personal income taxes using IRS Form 1040. In Montana, under this pass-through model, an LLC isn’t subject to state taxes; instead, owners handle those taxes on their individual tax returns.

    Is an LLC the Right Choice for You?

    Many small business proprietors in Montana find the LLC framework to be advantageous due to its blend of tax benefits and personal asset protection. Compared to sole proprietorships, which are straightforward to establish but lack recognition under federal tax law, LLCs offer more advantages.

    Alternatively, businesses have the option of choosing a corporation, which offers financial flexibility and shields against personal liability. However, corporations come with more intricate structural and tax reporting requirements compared to the straightforward maintenance of LLCs.

    Montana LLCs enjoy two primary benefits:

    • Avoiding double taxation: LLCs are treated by the IRS as “pass-through” entities, meaning the company’s profits and losses are passed on to individual LLC members who report them on their tax returns. This status helps the company avoid double taxation, where income is taxed at both the personal and business levels. Additionally, LLC members can deduct personal income if the LLC experiences losses during the business year, with the deduction being proportional to their ownership stake.
    • Protection of personal assets and liability: The LLC structure shields the personal assets of its owners in the event of a lawsuit, default, or bankruptcy. Even if the LLC encounters financial difficulties, creditors cannot pursue the owners’ personal property. Moreover, individuals cannot be held liable for actions taken by the LLC. These protections allow LLC owners to obtain loans and make investments without fear of risking their personal savings.

    The Cost of Forming an LLC in Montana

    Establishing an LLC in Montana presents a financial advantage for many entrepreneurs. Compared to other states, Montana offers relatively low initial filing fees for LLC formation, only charging $70. This cost-effective option is especially appealing to small business owners who want to minimize their startup expenses.

    Additionally, Montana stands out by not imposing a state sales tax, making it an attractive choice for businesses involved in selling goods and services. This beneficial tax environment can lead to potential savings for LLC owners, particularly those operating in the retail or service sectors.

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    Our Picks of the Best-Registered Agent Services

    Tailor brands

    Tailor Brands aims to empower entrepreneurs by providing a comprehensive suite of services, encompassing LLC formation, compliance, and branding/online presence. Although Tailor Brands offers a variety of plans, we highly recommend the Elite Plan as it truly stands out. 

    This plan encompasses all the essential features that serious entrepreneurs require to effectively reach their target audience – undoubtedly the crucial aspect of establishing an online presence.

    Tailor Brands may not be the most economical option for startups looking for a budget-friendly solution. However, it’s essential for those who are committed to making a significant investment in establishing a strong online presence.

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    Northwest Registered Agent logo

    Starting a new business involves handling various legal documents that can be overwhelming for inexperienced entrepreneurs. Northwest offers a range of business services aimed at assisting business owners in obtaining and submitting the required paperwork to the appropriate government agency accurately and promptly.

    In addition to helping with the establishment of an LLC, Northwest also provides additional services like registered agent services that can be advantageous for new business owners.

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    Bizee logo

    Bizee presents a valuable repository of resources that’s highly beneficial for individuals aspiring to become business owners and in search of guidance on selecting the appropriate business structure. Furthermore, Incfile offers comprehensive assistance throughout the crucial documentation and filing procedures, simplifying concepts like registered agents, articles of organization, and EIN. 

    Having established a solid reputation and garnered positive feedback from online reviews, Bizee stands as a dependable partner for those embarking on their journey into entrepreneurship.

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    How to Form an LLC in Montana – FAQs

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