I run a purely online/website business, and I'm considering setting up an LLC in Delaware. However I can't figure out if I will have to register it in California as well?
I live in CA, however I do not rent any office space and have not emplyees, but I do have a home office, where I write code for the site and maintain it from.
Website's revenue comes from ads and user's membership fees (via PayPal and a merchant account outside CA). It is fully automated (i.e. I don't work with the users directly, other than writing code that runs the site). I also don't target any specific location, and the users come from all over the world.
The server hosting the website is physically located in CA and also owned by me (co-located).
Googling only brought wildly conflicting answers...
It sounds like your LLC is doing business here in CA and should be formed here, more than any other state. If you're taking a deduction on your taxes for your home office and maintaining the website here, then your LLC should be based here. Even if you don't (and it sounds like you should be, if the home office is devoted to running this business), you're still maintaining the website here, which seems like the crux of the business.
There's no point in organizing it in DE, paying to have a DE agent for service of process, and also paying the same Franchise Board Tax to qualify as a foreign entity doing business in CA.
If you haven't already, you should sit down with a business/IP lawyer to make sure you're organizing your business with the best possible decisions, so you can limit your personal liability, make the most advantageous choice for your tax situation, and protect your IP assets. That means choosing and registering the best business entity, business name, tradename, and domain name, copyrighting your site's pages if applicable, making sure your website is equipped with appropriate disclosures and disclaimers, etc.
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
I agree with Ms. Koslyn.
You might find information at the links below helpful.
Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
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