Reasons You May Want to Form an Anonymous LLC
You may not have even thought about forming an anonymous LLC, but there are some compelling reasons you ought to consider doing so.
There are good reasons to keep your business dealings private. These could include concerns about identity theft or problems with a stalker.
Keeping your name out of the public record could help protect your assets from frivolous lawsuits. It can also provide a separation between your name and your company if you’re trying to make a fresh start.
In short, an anonymous LLC can allow you to operate your business by focusing only on the business aspect. It keeps you from entangling any personal issues you may be having or have had in the past.
It might seem like a shady business practice, but it is perfectly valid and legal!
Forming an anonymous LLC doesn’t mean you have anything to hide; it’s just another way to separate your personal life from your business life.
Note: It’s important to note that the government can still find out who you are if they need to, so having an anonymous LLC is not a license to do anything underhand or illegal! It’s also not going to get you out of paying any taxes, although your home state and the way your business is set up can definitely have tax implications.
How to File an Anonymous LLC
To make sure all your paperwork is correct and your identity is hidden, this is a case where it may be best to get some help from professional formation services to ensure everything is done properly.
Remember, if you don’t want to go through setting up an LLC on your own, you can get help from online formation services such as Harbor Compliance, ZenBusiness, Incfile, and other alternative forming services.
If you choose to do it on your own, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to fill out forms and wait for the state to process them.
It can take several weeks before your LLC is up and running.
Part of having an anonymous LLC is making sure that you have a registered agent. Even if you live the state that you wish to form your LLC, the registered agent will be listed on all your paperwork and keep your name out of the spotlight.
You’ll also need to be very careful when filling out paperwork, both that you do it correctly and that you avoid naming yourself if possible. You still need to make sure to fill in all the information required by the state, though.
If you leave any parts blank, you risk having to file an amended form.
What’s The Difference Between an Anonymous LLC and a Standard LLC?
That’s a great question, there are no differences between these types of LLCs.
The company will still be run the same way, by the same people, and be subject to the same reporting and taxes. The only difference is that the owner’s names will not become public record.
In some states, it’s possible for anyone to do a quick search on the Secretary of State’s website to find the names of officers/members of an LLC.
In others, a member must sign the initial document, meaning that person cannot keep their identity hidden. It really depends on the state that you wish to form an LLC.
An anonymous LLC does not help you pay less taxes or let you off the hook if your business comes under scrutiny for some reason.
Which States Allow Anonymous LLCs?
While our usual advice is to set up an LLC in the state you’ll be operating in, unfortunately only a handful of states allow anonymous LLCs.
Even though this limits your choices, if being anonymous is important to you it may be worth the extra hassle to form your LLC in one of these states.
These states don’t have a special “anonymous LLC” designation, but their disclosure requirements are such that companies can create LLCs anonymously.
Wyoming is one of the few states that allows an anonymous LLC. They don’t require the members of an LLC to be listed on the Articles of Organization; rather, the LLC can be listed under the name of the Registered Agent.
Another interesting reason to file with Wyoming is that they have no corporate or personal income tax. However, even as an anonymous LLC you’ll still be required to file an annual report and pay a license tax fee.
This amount is a minimum of $50 or $.0002 of assets in Wyoming. You have to file an annual report each year and pay the required fee. This form is due on the first day of the month of your formation anniversary.
If your assets are less than $250,000 your fee will be only $50; any greater and you’ll have to pay more. Generally, you’ll be able to file your annual report online, but if the fee is greater than $500 you’ll need to file on paper.
New Mexico is another state which allows anonymous LLCs.
On New Mexico’s Foreign LLC Application for Registration, applicants must list a registered agent and mailing address, and “a person in whom the management of the limited liability company is vested.”
In other words, there is nowhere in the paperwork that requires officers or owners to be listed. New Mexico doesn’t require an annual fee, either, so once you’ve paid your initial registration fee of $100 all you need to do is make sure your registered agent remains in good standing.
New Mexico does have a corporate income tax, so depending on how your LLC is set up you may or may not be subject to it.
Some LLCs are taxed as corporations, while others are considered pass-through entities for tax purposes.
This is something you should discuss with an accountant or attorney prior to registration.
Have you ever noticed the return address of your credit card statement? Don’t be surprised if you find out it’s coming from Delaware!
Delaware is well-known for its pro-business climate, and it is one of the few states that also offers an anonymous LLC.
There is a good reason that many businesses choose Delaware as their home.
The initial fee for starting a foreign LLC in Delaware is $200, plus any fees for your registered agent.
Each year, though, all LLCs must pay an annual fee of $300. However, you won’t be required to file an annual report (which is a nice plus).
The Certificate of Registration of Foreign Limited Liability Company only requires information about the company and registered agent. LLCs in Delaware are not required to pay income tax.
Nevada has become another hub for business over the past decade or so.
While their Articles of Organization for a Limited Liability Company require companies to name their members and managers, they aren’t required to name their owners. The list isn’t published, which allows some measure of anonymity.
In Nevada there is no corporate income tax or personal income tax, making it a desirable location for your anonymous LLC. However, the registration cost could be up to $540.
Additionally, the annual report fee and member filing cost a combined $350, making it the priciest option on this list.
Other States to Form an LLC
You may be able to set up an anonymous LLC through another state, depending on the state’s requirements.
In some cases, you might be able to use a registered agent or an LLC formation service to help keep your information private. There’s also the possibility of using an LLC as a shell company to help keep the ownership information private.
We highly recommend using a formation service.
Their expertise can make sure you’re on the right track from the formation of your business and help you avoid costly paperwork errors.
Many, if not all, states charge fees for amending paperwork, making it even more important to get it right the first time.
Is an Anonymous LLC Right for You?
There are good reasons to form an anonymous LLC. If the reasons above apply to you, check with an attorney, an accountant, or a corporation-forming service like ZenBusiness to see what your options are.
These professionals can help you choose the best state to suit your needs, walk you through your options, and make sure all your paperwork is correct.
That leaves you to focus on what you do best – growing your business and serving your customers.