How to File for an LCC in Montana

Updated on January 23, 2024

Starting a limited liability company (LLC) in Montana can be a great way to formally structure your small business. An LLC offers liability protection and tax flexibility for business owners. If you want to form an LLC in Montana, there are a few key steps you’ll need to take. First, you’ll choose a business name and register your LLC with the Montana Secretary of State. Next, you’ll create an operating agreement. You’ll also need to obtain any necessary business licenses and permits. Additionally, be sure to set up accounting procedures and obtain an EIN from the IRS. With a bit of preparation, starting an LLC in Montana can help set your business up for success.

Understanding LLCs

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a business structure that combines aspects of partnerships and corporations. LLCs provide liability protection for the owners, called members, so their personal assets are protected if the business is sued. At the same time, LLCs allow pass-through taxation like partnerships, avoiding double taxation on business profits.

Some key things to know about LLCs:

  • LLCs limit personal liability for members while allowing pass-through taxation
  • They are more flexible in management structure than corporations
  • LLCs need to follow state-specific formation and operation rules
  • Many benefits are available to LLCs including the ability to deduct expenses

Forming an LLC protects personal assets and allows business losses and profits to pass to the LLC members’ personal tax returns. Understanding the rules for starting and running an LLC is key for benefiting from this popular business structure.

Choosing a Name for Your Montana LLC

One of the first steps when forming your Montana LLC is choosing a business name. When selecting your LLC name, it must include the words “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company,” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or “LLC”. Your LLC name also cannot be the same as another business entity already registered in Montana.

You’ll want to check name availability by searching the Montana Secretary of State business database. An available business name that is distinctive, memorable, and describes what your LLC does is ideal. You also want to make sure your chosen name doesn’t infringe upon any trademarks. Using an LLC name generator like GuidGenerator can help produce unique name ideas.

  • Include “Limited Liability Company” or “LLC” in the name
  • Check name availability in the state database
  • Choose a name that is unique, memorable, and descriptive
  • Avoid infringing on existing trademarks
  • Use an LLC name generator for ideas

Selecting a Registered Agent

One of the requirements for forming an LLC in Montana is designating a registered agent. This is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept legal documents and notices on behalf of your LLC. Here are some tips for choosing your Montana LLC’s registered agent:

  • Select a registered agent service or an individual who resides in Montana – your registered agent must have a physical street address in the state.
  • Consider costs – registered agents typically charge an annual fee in the range of $25-$150 per year.
  • Evaluate reliability and responsiveness – your registered agent has an important role so pick one known for dependability.
  • Choose availability – make sure your registered agent is available during normal business hours to receive legal documents.

Doing research to find an ideal registered agent is time well spent. This will make sure your Montana LLC fulfills state compliance requirements related to having a registered agent.

Filing Your LLC Paperwork

Once you have chosen a business name and registered your LLC with the Montana Secretary of State, there are a few more steps to complete to make your LLC official:

  • Prepare your Articles of Organization. This document names your LLC, lists the members and managers, describes the business purpose, and more. Make sure all information matches what you registered with the state.
  • File the Articles of Organization. This can be done by mail or in person by submitting Form LLC-1 to the Montana Secretary of State’s office with the $70 filing fee. You can also file online through the SOS website.

After filing, you will receive a Certificate of Fact confirming the LLC formation. Going forward, you must also:

  • Create an Operating Agreement detailing finances, voting rights, rules for members, and more. While not required in Montana, it will support how your LLC runs.
  • Obtain any necessary business licenses and permits for your LLC’s activities and location by checking state and local requirements.
  • File for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) with the IRS if you will have employees or multiple members. This establishes your LLC for federal tax purposes.

Properly completing all paperwork and filings ensures your Montana LLC is fully compliant and protected from any personal liability. Revisit your operating agreement as the business grows or changes. With the right foundation through proper documentation, you can focus on running a successful Montana LLC.

Drafting an LLC Operating Agreement

After officially forming your Montana LLC, the next important step is to create an operating agreement. An operating agreement is a document that outlines the ownership structure, member responsibilities, profit/loss distribution, voting rights, and other governance rules for your LLC. While Montana does not require an operating agreement, it’s highly recommended for all LLCs.

Here are some key things to address in an operating agreement for your Montana LLC:

  • Ownership percentages – Specify the ownership stakes held by each member.
  • Member roles and responsibilities – Define what each member’s duties entail.
  • Profit and loss distribution – Determine how profits and losses will be divided among members.
  • Member voting rights – Establish voting procedures for business decisions.
  • Capital contributions – State the initial and any future contributions members must make.
  • New member admission – Outline the requirements and procedures for adding members.
  • Member withdrawal – Establish rules and processes for voluntary withdrawal or involuntary removal of members.

There are free Montana operating agreement templates available online that can make drafting your agreement straightforward. Using a template allows you to simply fill in the details specific to your LLC while the basic structure and language is already composed. However, for more complex LLCs, working with an attorney experienced in Montana business law is wise to ensure your agreement is legally sound.

Carefully drafting an operating agreement while forming your Montana LLC sets clear expectations among members and prevents potential disputes down the road. Review and update the document as needed, such as when new members join.

Obtaining Tax Identification Numbers

One of the steps for starting an LLC in Montana is obtaining tax identification numbers from federal and state agencies. This allows your LLC to pay taxes properly.

At the federal level, you will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number identifies your business for tax purposes. You can easily apply for an EIN on the IRS website. At the state level, you will need to register for tax accounts with agencies like the Montana Department of Revenue. This allows you to obtain licenses, pay sales tax, withhold payroll taxes, and fulfill other tax obligations in Montana.

Some key things to do are:

  • Apply for an EIN from the IRS as soon as you form your LLC
  • Register for state tax accounts like sales tax, payroll withholding, etc.
  • Make sure to keep your tax information organized and file taxes on time

Getting your tax IDs set up properly ensures your new Montana LLC stays compliant with both federal and state agencies. This makes tax time easier and avoids penalties for non-compliance.

Pros and Cons of Starting an LLC in California

Forming a limited liability company (LLC) can be a great way to structure your small business in Montana. However, as with any business structure, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider when starting an LLC.

Some of the key pros of an LLC include:

  • Personal liability protection – LLC members are typically not personally liable for business debts and liabilities
  • Tax flexibility – LLCs can elect to be taxed as sole proprietors, partnerships, S corporations or C corporations
  • Credibility – The LLC structure carries more credibility with customers and partners than a sole proprietorship

However, there are also some potential downsides:

  • Increased startup costs – Forming an LLC costs more upfront than a sole proprietorship or general partnership
  • Paperwork and regulations – LLCs require more complex paperwork and record keeping to remain compliant
  • Self-employment taxes – LLC members may have to pay self-employment taxes on LLC earnings

Cost Considerations

When starting an LLC in Montana, there are several costs to consider. The filing fee to register an LLC with the Secretary of State is $70. You may also need to pay local licensing fees depending on your city or county. Additionally, you will likely need the help of an attorney to properly set up your LLC, which can range from $500-$2,000 or more depending on the complexity of your business structure.

Other costs may include:

  • Annual report filing fees – $15 per year
  • Registered agent fees if you use a third-party – $100-200 per year
  • Accounting fees if you hire an accountant – Variable
  • Business license fees – Varies by location

Carefully research all state, local, and operational costs before starting your Montana LLC to ensure you have sufficient funds to operate your business successfully. Forming an LLC can provide liability protection for business owners, but does require following various regulations and rules.

Economical LLC Formation Options

When starting an LLC in Montana, it’s important to keep costs low, especially when just launching your business. Here are some of the most affordable options for LLC formation:

  • Use an online service like LegalZoom or Incfile to form your LLC. These services charge $100-200 for preparing your articles of organization and filing them with the state.
  • File yourself using the standard Montana forms from the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $70, so you would save money doing your own paperwork.
  • Work with a business attorney who provides flat-rate LLC filing services. They can prepare your documents and submit the filing for one low fee, usually starting around $300.

Doing your own paperwork or using an online service to form your Montana LLC can save you hundreds compared to using an attorney. However, attorneys provide value like legal advice that you need to weigh as well.

Pre-Formation Steps

Taking the proper pre-formation steps when starting an LLC in Montana is important to ensure your business is set up correctly. Here are some key steps to take before formally creating your LLC:

  • Choose a business name – Select a unique name that is distinguishable from other businesses in Montana. Check the Montana Secretary of State website to make sure your desired name is available.
  • File a name reservation – You can reserve your business name for 120 days in Montana by filing a name reservation with the Secretary of State.
  • Create an operating agreement – An operating agreement establishes important rules and provisions for your LLC. While not required in Montana, it is highly recommended.
  • Obtain an EIN – Acquire a free Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business from the IRS, which you’ll need to open business bank accounts and file taxes.
  • Set up accounting – Choose an accounting system to handle bookkeeping, taxes, and finances. QuickBooks or Xero are popular choices.

Taking care of these key pre-formation steps in Montana will prepare you to establish your LLC properly when you are ready to officially register your business.

Comparing Business Entity Types

When starting a business in Montana, you have several options for structuring your company. Some of the most common business structures include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). Here is a brief comparison of some key factors to consider when choosing an entity type:

  • Sole proprietorships are owned and operated by one person. They are easy to set up but offer no personal liability protection if the business is sued.
  • Partnerships involve two or more owners and are also relatively easy to establish. General partnerships provide no personal liability protection, but limited partnerships offer some protections for limited partners.
  • Corporations protect owners’ personal assets if the business is sued, but require more paperwork and formalities to start and maintain. C-corps and S-corps have different tax treatments.
  • LLCs provide personal liability protection like corporations but require less paperwork. Profits and losses flow through to the owners’ personal tax returns.

When starting an LLC in Montana specifically, the Montana Secretary of State website provides all the steps and forms required. Key requirements include choosing an available business name, designating a registered agent, and filing the Articles of Organization.

After Filing Your LLC

Once your articles of organization have been filed and accepted by the Montana Secretary of State, you have officially formed your LLC. However, there are still some important next steps you need to take to properly structure and operate your new business.

Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is a document that outlines the ownership structure, rules, regulations voting procedures, and profit/loss distribution plan for your LLC. While an operating agreement is not required in Montana, it is highly recommended to have one in place. This document will help prevent disputes among members down the road.

Get an EIN

You will need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you plan to open a business bank account or have employees. Apply for an EIN directly from the IRS website.

Set up Accounting

Establish a record-keeping and accounting system for your LLC right away. All Montana LLCs must keep financial records. Having organized accounts will also make tax filing easier.

Understand Tax Obligations

In Montana, LLCs can choose how they want to be taxed. Inform yourself about Montana business taxes and choose a tax structure for your LLC. You may need to register for certain state taxes once operating.

Following these key next steps after officially registering your LLC will set your new business up for success. Don’t skip these foundational processes – they are essential for running a compliant and organized Montana LLC.

Business Licenses and Permits

When starting an LLC in Montana, you may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits depending on your industry and location. Some common licenses and permits to consider include:

  • Business license – Most cities and towns in Montana require all businesses operating within their jurisdiction to obtain a general business license. Fees typically range from $25 to $100 annually.
  • Sales tax license – If your LLC will be selling taxable goods or services, you need to register for a Montana sales tax license. This allows you to legally collect and remit sales tax.
  • Industry-specific permits – Certain industries like food services, childcare, medical services, etc. require special permits and licenses from state agencies like the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Be sure to research the specific regulatory requirements for your type of business. The Montana Secretary of State website and local government offices also provide guidance. Planning ahead for permits and licenses ensures your new Montana LLC is fully compliant from day one.

Growth Considerations for Your LLC

As your Montana LLC grows, there are some key things to consider. You may need to scale up operations, hire employees, or expand to multiple locations. Here are a few growth tips:

  • Create organizational charts and document procedures so new hires understand company policies and operations.
  • Consider whether an S-corp election makes sense for tax purposes as profits increase.
  • Make sure to continue filing necessary reports on time and keep corporate records organized.
  • Review your tax obligations if expanding operations across state lines or opening multiple offices.

Putting systems in place for governance, taxes, and compliance helps set up your growing Montana LLC for success. Consult with accounting and legal advisors as needed for guidance.

Additional Resources

Forming an LLC in Montana requires understanding the legal and procedural requirements. While this article provides an overview, talking to professionals can further aid your journey. Additionally, the following resources offer helpful information:

Montana Secretary of State state website detailing requirements and fees for establishing an LLC in Montana.
NOLO, concise guide on Montana’s LLC laws and paperwork.

Consulting business attorneys, accountants, and the Secretary of State website can further simplify starting your Montana LLC. Additionally, utilize the resources outlined above when ready to formally register your business.


Starting an LLC in Montana provides several advantages such as personal asset protection and pass-through taxation. While the filing process does require some paperwork and fees, it is relatively straightforward. The key steps include choosing a business name, designating a registered agent, filing the Articles of Organization, creating an operating agreement, obtaining any necessary licenses or permits, and staying compliant with annual reporting. With the proper research and preparation, you can form your Montana LLC smoothly. Following these best practices from the beginning will set your business up for success.

  • Conduct thorough research before getting started
  • Carefully plan your business structure and operations
  • Maintain accurate financial records from day one
  • Comply with all ongoing reporting and tax requirements
  • Get assistance from legal and accounting professionals when needed

We wish you the best with your new Montana limited liability company!


What are the requirements to form an LLC in Montana?

To form an LLC in Montana, you need to file articles of organization with the Montana Secretary of State. You will need to include the LLC’s name, address, names of members, etc. You also need to pay a $70 filing fee.

Do I need a registered agent if I form an LLC in Montana?

Yes, Montana law requires all LLCs to have and continuously maintain a registered agent who has a physical street address in Montana. The registered agent’s address will be the LLC’s address for receiving official/legal correspondence.

What are the publication requirements when starting an LLC in Montana?

After filing your articles of organization, you need to publish a notice in a newspaper in the county where the LLC’s principal place of business will be located. This notice should be published for three consecutive weeks.

Is there an operating agreement requirement for Montana LLCs?

No, Montana law does not require an LLC to have an operating agreement. However, having an agreement that outlines ownership, voting rights, profit/loss distribution, etc is highly recommended for multi-member LLCs.

Do I need to file an annual report for a Montana LLC?

Yes, all LLCs in Montana need to file an annual report each year, due by April 15th. You need to file it with the Montana Secretary of State and there is a $15 fee per year.

What taxes do I need to pay for a Montana LLC?

Montana LLCs need to pay no state income tax. However, you may need to pay federal income tax, self-employment taxes, employment taxes if you have employees, excise taxes, etc.

Frank Gogol

A seasoned SEO expert, Frank has a long history of working with and for startups. Starting in mid-2018, Frank served as the SEO Strategist for Stilt, a fintech startup that provided fair loans for immigrants in the US and other underserved markets. While with the company, he scaled site traffic from zero to more than 1.5 million unique visits per month, driving the bulk of the company’s lead generation until it was acquired by J.G. Wentworth in December 2022. As employee #5 at Stilt, Frank was witness to, and part of, the successful building and sale of a fintech company, uniquely positioning him to create content for founders about all things startups.