If you're considering starting a company and want to choose between an LLC and Inc. (corporation), here is what you should know about the differences.
A limited liability company (denoted by L.L.C. or LLC) is a business structure that provides limited liability to its owners. This means the business is a separate legal entity and the owners ("members" of an LLC) are not legally liable for some acts and debts of the LLC. Inc. is short for Incorporated and denotes a C or S corporation. A corporation also offers liability protection but differs from an LLC in terms of ownership structure and rules, regulations they have to follow, management overhead and tax treatment of profits.
LLCs are organized with a document called the "articles of organization", or "the rules of organization" specified publicly by the state; additionally, it is common to have an "operating agreement" privately specified by the members. The operating agreement is a contract among the members of an LLC governing the membership, management, operation and distribution of income of the company.
For an Inc., the Articles of Incorporation (also called a Charter, Certificate of Incorporation or Letters Patent) are filed, listing the purpose of the corporation, its principal place of business and the number and type of shares of stock. A registration fee is due which will usually be between $25 and $1,000, depending on the state. A corporate name is generally made up of 3 parts: "Distinctive element", "Descriptive element", and a legal ending. All corporations must have a distinctive element and (in most filing jurisdictions) a legal ending to their names. Some corporations choose not to have a descriptive element.
For Example, in the name "ABC Exports Inc." the word "ABC" is the distinctive element; the word "Exports" is the descriptive element; and the "Inc." is the legal ending. The legal ending indicates that it is in fact a legal corporation and not just a business registration or partnership. Usually there are also Corporate Bylaws which must be filed with the state. These will outline a number of important corporate housekeeping details such as when annual shareholder meetings will be held, who can vote and the manner in which shareholders will be notified if there is need for an additional "special" meeting.
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